Book Review:  Sankofa, by Chibundu Onuzo

Image belongs to Catapult.

Title:   Sankofa
Author:   Chibundu Onuzo
Genre:   Fiction
Rating:  4 out of 5

Anna is at a stage of her life when she’s beginning to wonder who she really is. She has separated from her husband, her daughter is all grown up, and her mother—the only parent who raised her—is dead.

 Searching through her mother’s belongings one day, Anna finds clues about the African father she never knew. His student diaries chronicle his involvement in radical politics in 1970s London. Anna discovers that he eventually became the president—some would say dictator—of a small nation in West Africa. And he is still alive . . .

 When Anna decides to track her father down, a journey begins that is disarmingly moving, funny, and fascinating. Like the metaphorical bird that gives the novel its name, Sankofa expresses the importance of reaching back to knowledge gained in the past and bringing it into the present to address universal questions of race and belonging, the overseas experience for the African diaspora, and the search for a family’s hidden roots.

I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. Anna has spent most of her life stagnating, so it was good to see her finally take some sort of action. But, Anna still lets life happen to her, going along with a lot of things instead of speaking up or standing up for herself. Her father was kind of awful, a far cry from the man she got to know from his diary.

Chibundu Onuzo is from Nigeria. Sankofa is her new novel.

(Galley courtesy of Catapult in exchange for an honest review.)

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