Arts & Leisure

Book review: Sankofa — by Chibundu Onuzo


Anna Graham, who later in her life, with an unsteady marriage, a fully-grown independent daughter, and a mother recently passed, is now uncovering her past and figuring out who she is. While cleaning out the flat that belonged to her Welsh mother, Bronwen Bain, she discovers her father’s diary, given to her mother for safekeeping. Brownwen told Anna very little about her father, just he left, returned to Africa, and was never interested in being a father. Anna, growing up as a half-caste in England, discovers Francis Aggrey was a student in London and boarded with her grandfather which is how he came to meet, and fall in love, with her mother. Reading his diary sets off the events of the book to follow, as the person her father turns out to be is problematic for Anna. Still, she travels to meet him, and as she navigates the cultural and familial heritage that was kept from her, she comes into her own. As the novel draws to a close, the meaning behind the title, “Sankofa,” is revealed, and a traditional ceremony provides an all encompassing moment of clarity that is emotionally moving, and creates the bonds that hold this book together.

— Reviewed by Jenny Lyons. Connect with her on Instagram @jennysbookshop to find more great book reviews and recommendations. Look for these titles and more at your local bookstore.

8 More Literature to Explore Cultural Heritage


The Night Watchman, by Louise Erdrich

How the One-Armed Sister Sweeps Her House, by Cherie Jones

Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth, by Wole Soyinka

Interior Chinatown, by Charles Yu

What Storm, What Thunder, by Myriam J. A. Chancy

The Stationery Shop, by Marjan Kamali

The Mountains Sing, by Mai Phan Que Nguyen

I Will Die in a Foreign Land, by Kalani Pickhart

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