Rhythm is the beating heart of this story, and were the audio version of Selasi reading it herself still available, that is where I would send you. Every line is structured to produce a rhythm that starts to affect your heartbeat and your own speech after a while, but that seductive beat reaches new heights of incantatory beauty whenever the narrator, Webster, talks about ‘Madam’. Webster is the driver for a rich family in Ghana, and Madam is the wife of his employer and the forbidden object of his affections. Selasi’s silken voice and intimacy with her own writing make her delivery a blissful seduction in itself. Try this out loud, huskily: “Madam has the contours of a girl I knew in Dansoman and sculptures sold at Arts Centre and Bitter Lemon bottles. Slender top and round the rest. A perfect holy roundness that is proof of God’s existence and His goodness furthermore.” Gorgeous.
In Granta 123: Best of Young British Novelists 4 (2013), read online with a Granta digital subscription here