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Summary

A Reese Witherspoon Book Club pick

A BBC 2 Between the Covers Book Club pick

Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction Futures Prize

An Amazon Best Book of the Year

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, she finds clues about the West African father she never knew. Through reading his student diary, chronicling his involvement in radical politics in 1970s London, she discovers that he eventually became the president - some would say the dictator - of a small nation in West Africa. And he is still alive. 

She decides to track him down and so begins a funny, painful, fascinating journey, and an exploration of race, identity and what we pass on to our children.

©2021 Chibundu Onuzo (P)2021 Hachette Audio UK

Critic reviews

"A fantastic novel about a woman's search for her personal, familial and national identity." (Sefi Atta)

"Wonderful. Poignant and powerful and so timely and the beautiful ending had me in tears, reminding me to look within as well as without for my answers." (Stella Duffy)

"Slick pacing and unpredictable developments keep the reader alert right up to the novel's exhilarating ending." (Guardian Book of the Day)

What listeners say about Sankofa

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Western telling of an African story

I was disappointed by the accents put on by the narrator. The African accents were identical to the Phillipina one and distracted from the story. As a Zimbabwean I was also disappointed by the mispronounced name Phiri - this would have been easy to verify.

The story itself was written from a Western point of view although there was some attempt to incorporate local view points. Overall it felt like the same story of African dictators sold by the media and did not give a nuanced deeper view.

2 people found this helpful

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Disappointing

I am a huge fan of this author (loved 'Welcome to Lagos' and quite enjoyed 'Spider King's Daughter'). Unfortunately, 'Sankofa' did not work for me. The premise was interesting, but it did not quite land. I could not stand the main character and as the story was essentially from her perspective, it made it difficult to enjoy the book. Pretty much all the characters around her were far more interesting and the book would have been more enjoyable had it been told from their perspectives (including her annoying husband). The narrator did not help - she made the character come across as really whiney. None of this has put me off the author though - hopefully the next one will be better for me.

1 person found this helpful

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Great read

Loved it - the narrator was amazing- I thought the ending was a little abrupt and I was actually waiting for the next chapter to start ! Very disappointed it didn’t continue - a fantastic read

1 person found this helpful

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Wonderful weaving of a story

I loved this book, from start to finish. The characters came alive. It was interesting and beautifully written.

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Down beat.

After being thoroughly captivated by the authors first two novels, I decided I’d stick with this, & the story did improve about three quarters way through. I felt there weren’t enough uplifting moments, & friends who while Anna was growing up, would have cheered for her. I listened to the amazing ‘12 Years A Slave’ in the middle of this narration just to break up the monotony.
The narrator has a nice voice, but it somehow didn’t feel right for this story.

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Slow starter but fantastic story

I honestly almost gave up listening but something in the diary (around chapter 4) hooked me.

All the characters are complicated and I found them each likeable and unlikeable, but also understood their duality. Anna is brilliant at just being Anna and whether in agreement or not, I empathised with her tremendously. Such an interesting novel about identity in Britain and colonialism in Africa. Excellent read!

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Really Good book

The book felt like a series of short essays that linked together, this was my favourite thing about it.

Using the short essays she determined the pace.

Every word in the book was intentional, no faff to bulk up the book.

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OK

It felt a bit like a history lesson. interesting but a bit dry until the end

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Great story

I loved this story. Excellently read. I would recommend it to others . Brilliant

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Brilliant

Original,captivating and memorable
Beautifully read I adored this book I highly recommend it takes you on a journey you don’t want to leave

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  • Ursula
  • 20-12-21

Lovely unusual story, beautifully narrated

I really enjoyed this story, I found it novel, and sincerely written, narrated with feeling and very easy to listen to