When I build these lists of books set around the world, I always find it interesting to see what common themes seem to pull them all together. You can find the story of the country that way, I think. And in this list of books about Ghana, you’ll find so many stories of people searching for home.
For hundreds of years, Ghana was a central part of the Atlantic slave trade. It’s impossible to overstate how much this changed the course of history, but in these books you’ll also find the personal stories and impacts of this terrible time. And it’s not just about the men and women who were enslaved and sent across the ocean; the slave trade drastically impacted Ghanaians who remained in the country, too.
But in these books about Ghana you’ll also find stories about more than the slave trade, too. From a novel about a woman hoping her new husband will leave his mistress (His Only Wife) to a story about a couple from Alabama escaping to Ghana during the Civil Rights Movement (The Scent of Burnt Flowers) to the true story of a woman who became king of a small village and transformed it (King Peggy). But they still seem to carry that common theme: a search for belonging. Which I can only imagine is one of the legacies of Ghana’s history.
This list of books about Ghana will teach you so much and draw you into the country’s deep history and unique struggles, and some of them will also leave you with deep hope.
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Fiction Set in Ghana
Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
Homegoing really took the literary world by storm when it came out in 2017. This book traces the lineages of two half-sisters from Ghana. One of them marries a white man in Ghana, while another is sold into slavery. Each chapter then follows a generation of their family tree. This book can be brutal, but it is captivating and so amazing. For fans of literary and historical fiction.
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
Gyasi’s sophomore novel is completely different in scope than her first. While Homegoing tells a story across generations, Transcendent Kingdom focuses on one woman who is a neuroscientist determined to find answers to substance abuse after the death of her brother, while her mom struggles to deal with the tragedy. It is full of questions about faith and science, and is beautiful. While Ghana plays a big part in this book, I also especially love it that a big part of it is set in my hometown of Huntsville, Alabama. For fans of quiet literary fiction.
(Another bonus: If you are a fan of Gyasi, check out this short story!)
His Only Wife by Peace Adzo Medie
When Afi marries her new husband, Eli, he isn’t even at their wedding. In fact, when she moves to an apartment he has for her in Accra, she doesn’t even see him for weeks. She is there to “solve” the problem of Eli’s relationship with another woman, but she has no idea how much the marriage and her move to Accra is going to change her life. For fans of contemporary fiction.
The Scent of Burnt Flowers by Blitz Bazawule
During the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama, Melvin and Bernadette, a Black couple, go on the run to Ghana after an act of violence. But thanks to Melvin’s friendship with Ghana’s president and Bernadette’s newfound relationship with a famous musician, they find themselves caught up in a world of political intrigue and forbidden love. For fans of literary fiction and magical realism.
Ghana Must Go by Taiye Selasi
When Kweku Sai dies in Accra, his far-flung family is brought together. But their history is complicated, as years before Kweku had abandoned them. This is for fans of dysfunctional family stories and contemporary fiction.
The Hundred Wells of Salaga by Ayesha Hurruna Attah
This book about Ghana during the slave trade centers around two women whose lives interconnect. Amina is forced from her home to be sold into slavery, while Wurche is the daughter of a chief. When Amina is sent to Wurche’s home, their lives converge. For fans of literary and historical fiction.
Housegirl by Michael Donkor
This is the story of three girls growing up. Belinda is a responsible housegirl, Mary is learning how to be one, and Amma is a student in London who Belinda is sent to because her parents hope Belinda will solve Amma’s floundering. And of course there are secrets they are keeping from each other. For fans of character driven, literary fiction.
Wife of the Gods by Kwei Quartey
When Darko Dawson is called away from his family in Accra to solve a murder mystery in a small village, his past comes back back to haunt him. Twenty-five years earlier, his mother had mysteriously disappeared, and now he must return to the site of her disappearance to solve the mystery of the murder of a volunteer health worker. Based on the description and the origin of the title (teenage girls being “offered” to priests), I’m guessing this comes with a lot of content warnings. For fans of mysteries and police procedurals.
Changes – A Love Story by Ama Ata Aidoo
Esi is a modern woman in Ghana, fed up with her husband’s sexual assaults. When she decides to divorce him, she falls in love with another man. But he is already married, and that creates new problems in her life. For fans of women’s + feminist fiction.
Search Sweet Country by Kojo Laing
First published in 1986, Search Sweet Country delves into the lives of Ghanaians living in Accra in the 1970s, from students to politicians to a bishop. This is for fans of literary fiction with unique styles, steam of consciousness writing, and modern classics.
The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born by Ayi Kwei Armah
First published in 1968, this novel tells the story of an unnamed man during post-independence Ghana in 1965 and 1966. As those around him make corrupt deals, he tries to resist, even if it makes things more difficult for his family. For fans of literary fiction and socially critical novels.
Our Sister Killjoy by Ama Ata Aidoo
In this modern classic about the African diaspora and post-colonialism, Sissie travels from Ghana to Europe for her education. There, she observes those who have immigrated, reflects on how it has impacted their lives, and thinks about her own relationship to her homeland. This is for fans of modern classics and novels with unique structures and prose.
For more books set around the world, try these books about Morocco!
Non-Fiction Books About Ghana
Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route by Saidiya Hartman
Any list of books about Ghana is of course going to include stories about the slave trade, which is such a huge part of this country’s history. In this non-fiction book, Hartman travels to Ghana to journey along the slave route, reflecting on how the slave trade impacted both her own life and the lives of Ghanaians still in Ghana. I like this line from the jacket copy: “She is a stranger in search of strangers.” For fans of narrative non-fiction.
King Peggy: An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village by Peggielene Bartels and Eleanor Herman
Peggielene Bartels is working in Washington D.C. when she learns she has been named King of a village in Ghana after the passing of her uncle. When she arrives, she discovers how impoverished the village is, and works to transform her new home. For fans of biographies and stories of hope.
Children’s Books Set in Ghana
Emmanuel’s Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson, Illustrated by Sean Qualls
Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah was born in Ghana with a deformed leg, yet went on to become a cyclist. This picture book tells the story of his life and how he overcame so many obstacles. Recommended ages: 5 and up.
One Hen: How One Small Loan Made a Big Difference by Katie Smith Milway, Illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes
This picture book is about the power of microloans. Kojo lives in Ghana with his mother, and they struggle to survive by selling firewood. When they receive a small loan, Kojo buys a hen and eventually goes on to open a small poultry farm. This is based on a true story. Recommended ages: 8 and up.
Middle Grade Books Set in Ghana
The Kaya Girl by Mamle Wolo
When Faiza (a girl who works in the market in Accra) and Abena (a girl cushioned by wealth) meet, they form an unlikely friendship that opens both of their eyes and changes their lives. Recommended ages: 8-12 years.
Fibbed by Elizabeth Agyemang
In this graphic novel, Nana is always telling stories, and they are always true. But no one believes her, and when her parents reach their breaking point they send her to live with her grandmother in Ghana for the summer. There though, she meets the legendary spider, Ananse. Recommended ages: 8-12 years.
Crossing the Stream by Elizabeth-Irene Baitie
When Ato and his friends discover someone is poisoning a bird sanctuary, they set out to solve the mystery. Meanwhile, he’s heard scary rumors about his grandmother, who isn’t on good terms with his mother. But his project to save the bird sanctuary may bring the family back together. Recommended ages: 9-12 years.
The Door of No Return by Kwame Alexander
In this novel told in verse and set in Ghana, Kofi Offin loves to swim and wants to beat is older cousin in a contest. But instead, during a wrestling contest in his small village, a sudden death occurs and Kofi’s life is changed forever. Recommended ages: 10 and up.
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