While Ayim does an admirable job of capturing the dynamics of a splintered family and Maya’s fractured sense of identity, the novel’s frequent leaps between place and time are often made at the expense of plot and the exploration of character motivation. ... The lacunas in plot and character development are particularly frustrating given how well Ayim handles other aspects of the story. To date, there are only a few works of fiction that explore the African experience within continental Europe and just a handful address the Afro-German experience, so Ayim’s book is important in helping to fill this gap. As we hear Maya pondering Goethe’s idea of Weltliteratur and reflecting on just how lacking world literature actually is, books such as The God Child have the potential to enrich it and, in Berger’s words, bring new ways of seeing.
The book works better when dealing with these themes through character. Kojo’s view on England, for example, is completely convincing after his experiences: “It’s a cold wet third world country, but they made us think they were all powerful.” So too are Maya’s views on identity and immigrant life, handed down by the oracle of her mother: “I thought of the stories my mother had told me of my birth into this pale-moon world: white-blonde nurses, white corridors, white walls, white floors in the children’s ward of the Marienkrankenhaus in Bad Godesberg. And amongst all the harsh whiteness, the soft brown skin, dark brown hair and brown screams from my brown-pinkish mouth.”