Happiness: A Novel by Aminatta Forna

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Aminatta Forna is Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and Lannan Visiting Chair of Poetics at Georgetown University. Her novel Happiness was published in April 2018. Learn more about the author, her book, as well as ratings and reviews on the latter.

Aminatta Forna‘s books have been translated into eighteen languages and have won multiple prizes, including the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize Book Award in 2011, and been shortlisted for many others, among them the Orange Prize for Fiction, the Neustadt Prize, the Samuel Johnson Prize and the Dublin International IMPAC Award.

Aminatta was born in Scotland (in 1964), raised in Sierra Leone and Great Britain and spent periods of her childhood in Iran, Thailand and Zambia.

A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a member of the Folio Academy, she has acted as judge for a number of literary awards, including the International Man Booker. In 2014 she won the Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prize, an award from Yale University in honour of an author’s body of work, and in 2017 she was made OBE in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours.

Aminatta Forna is the author of the novels The Hired Man, The Memory of Love and Ancestor Stones, and the memoir The Devil that Danced on the Water.

Let’s take a closer look now at her latest novel, Happiness (2018).


A breathtaking novel from Orange Prize-shortlisted and Commonwealth Writers’ Prize-winning author Aminatta Forna

Waterloo Bridge, London. Two strangers collide. Attila, a Ghanaian psychiatrist, and Jean, an American studying the habits of urban foxes. From this chance encounter in the midst of the rush of a great city, numerous moments of connections span out and interweave, bringing disparate lives together.

Attila has arrived in London with two tasks: to deliver a keynote speech on trauma and to check up on the daughter of friends, his ‘niece’, Ama, who hasn’t called home in a while. It soon emerges that she has been swept up in an immigration crackdown – and now her young son Tano is missing.

When, by chance, Attila bumps into Jean again, she joins him in his search for Tano, mobilizing into action the network she has built up, mainly from the many West African immigrants working London’s myriad streets, of volunteer fox-spotters: security guards, hotel doormen, traffic wardens. All unite to help and as the search continues, a deepening friendship between Attila and Jean unfolds.

In this delicate yet powerful novel of loves lost and new, of past griefs and of the hidden side of a teeming metropolis, Aminatta Forna asks us to consider the values of the society we live in, our co-existence with one another and all living creatures – and the true nature of happiness.

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One comment

  1. This book is a multi-layered novel, a quite complex and rich story. I particularly loved the character of Attila. If you like easy and undemanding stories, don’t read this book!

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