The Atlantic

Housegirl Complicates the Diaspora Narrative

The debut from the Ghanaian British author Michael Donkor explores the life of a domestic worker in London, while rejecting the common impulse to focus on more aspirational immigrant stories.
Source: pop_jop / Getty / Arsh Raziuddin / The Atlantic

The Ghanaian British author Michael Donkor’s U.S. debut, Housegirl, is full of movement. The novel follows a 17-year-old domestic laborer named Belinda as she travels from Ghana to London. Before the start of the novel, Belinda has already journeyed from her home village to Kumasi, one of the largest cities in Ghana. The voyage to London marks her second sojourn. It is not her last.

Like many immigrants, Belinda is driven from her homeland by economic need. In Ghana, that meant traveling to the comparatively affluent Kumasi to serve as a housemaid for a comfortably middle-class couple whom she refers to as “Aunty” and “Uncle.” When the couple’s friends Nana and Doctor Otuo visit from London, they ask that Belinda accompany them back to their British abode to

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