Last November, we brought news of Aminatta Forna’s fifth book and fourth novel, Happiness. The book is now out, and after the first reviews, Forna is on the cover of Kirkus Reviews, the literary world’s leading magazine for book reviews. We are not in the least surprised as Forna is one of the most critically acclaimed fiction writers of her generation. “Low-key yet piercingly empathetic,” writes the magazine in their review of the novel. “Forna’s latest explores instinct, resilience, and the complexity of human coexistence, reaffirming her reputation for exceptional ability and perspective.” Here is a description of the novel by its UK publishers Bloomsbury Publishing:
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.
Happiness is published in the US by Atlantic Monthly Press.
With her work translated into sixteen languages, Aminatta Forna is a recipient of the Windham-Campbell Literature Prize in 2014 and was a finalist for the Neustadt Award in 2016. She is the author of the Samuel Johnson Prize-shortlisted memoir The Devil that Danced on the Water (2002), and of three novels: the Hurston Wright Legacy Award-winning Ancestor Stones (2006), the Orange Prize-shortlisted and Commonwealth Prize-winning The Memory of Love (2010), and the 2014 IMPAC Award-nominated The Hired Man (2013). In 2017, she became an Officer of the British Empire (OBE). Presently, she is the Lannan Visiting Chair of Poetics at Georgetown University and Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.
Congratulations to Aminatta Forna.