Happiness: Book summary and reviews of Happiness by Aminatta Forna

Happiness

by Aminatta Forna

Happiness by Aminatta Forna X
Happiness by Aminatta Forna
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  • Published in USA  Mar 2018
    368 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

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

London. A fox makes its way across Waterloo Bridge. The distraction causes two pedestrians to collide - Jean, an American studying the habits of urban foxes, and Attila, a Ghanaian psychiatrist there to deliver a keynote speech. From this chance encounter, Aminatta Forna's unerring powers of observation show how in the midst of the rush of a great city lie numerous moments of connection.

Attila has arrived in London with two tasks: to deliver a keynote speech on trauma, as he has done many times before; and to contact the daughter of friends, his "niece" who hasn't called home in a while. Ama has been swept up in an immigration crackdown, and now her young son Tano is missing.

When, by chance, Attila runs into Jean again, she mobilizes the network of rubbish men she uses as volunteer fox spotters. Security guards, hotel doormen, traffic wardens - mainly West African immigrants who work the myriad streets of London - come together to help. As the search for Tano continues, a deepening friendship between Attila and Jean unfolds.

Meanwhile a consulting case causes Attila to question the impact of his own ideas on trauma, the values of the society he finds himself in, and a grief of his own. In this delicate tale of love and loss, of cruelty and kindness, Forna asks us to consider the interconnectedness of lives, our co-existence with one another and all living creatures, and the true nature of happiness.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Low-key yet piercingly empathetic, Forna's latest explores instinct, resilience, and the complexity of human coexistence, reaffirming her reputation for exceptional ability and perspective." - Kirkus

"Despite a reliance on coincidence to drive her narrative, Forna's gift for characterization allows her to ask genuine, practical questions about the delicate problems of the human condition in this ambitious novel." - Publishers Weekly

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Author Information

Aminatta Forna Author Biography

Photo: © Simon Westcott

Aminatta Forna was born in Glasgow and raised in Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom. She is the author of The Memory of Love, Ancestor Stones, The Devil that Danced on the Water, and The Memory of Love, which has been selected as one of the Best Books of the Year by the Sunday Telegraph, Financial Times and Times.

In 2002 Forna helped to build a primary school in her family's village of Rogbonko. The building of the school was the first step in what would become known as the Rogbonko Project: a community effort to create an escape route from poverty through multiple initiatives in the spheres of education, agriculture, infrastructure and health.

Forna is a trustee of the Royal Literary Fund and sits on the advisory committee of the Caine Prize for African Writing. She has also ...

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Name Pronunciation
Aminatta Forna: A-mi-na-tta FOR-na

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