‘Forna’s voice is relentlessly compelling, her ability to summon atmosphere extraordinary … A thing of lasting beauty’ Observer
SHORTLISTED FOR THE RSL ONDAATJE PRIZE 2019
SHORTLISTED FOR THE JHALAK PRIZE 2019
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.
Piercingly intelligent and interrogative ... Registers tectonic shifts taking place in the world and provokes us to think anew about war, and what we take for peace and happiness * Spectator * An unusual novel that wears its cleverness lightly; tender, but with an eyes-wide-open recognition that the world is harsh * The Times * Forna is a risk-taker, a writer who doesn't hold back from tackling big themes ... Happiness is one of a handful of contemporary novels that take both the human condition and the animal condition seriously. Entering Forna's sweeping universe transports you to a place that feels familiar, but also totally feral and full of surprises * Financial Times * Forna's voice is relentlessly compelling, her ability to summon atmosphere extraordinary, her sympathetic portrayal of traffic wardens, street performers, security guards, hotel doormen a thing of lasting beauty. It is as if the author has privileged access into multiple spheres of existence, learning the secret languages of each, conferring dignity and consequence on these figures who often pass unseen and unrecorded in our accounts of contemporary life * Observer * Forna's writing exudes an excitable kind of curiosity - about people, about the world. She has a magpie eye for interesting facts and observations ... She has a big heart and impressive breadth, writing with equal acuity and empathy about women and men, Americans and Africans, professors and traffic wardens ... There is so much to enjoy in this book * New Statesman * Aminatta Forna expertly weaves her characters' stories, past and present, in and out of the larger story of London, which becomes as rich a character as the human beings and, indeed, the foxes; and she makes us care deeply about them all, the foxes, the people and the city. A terrific novel * Salman Rushdie * One of the best novels I've read in quite a while - intelligent, deep and poignant. It sheds smooth, unflinching light upon the unseen. Forna is at the top of her game * Rabih Alameddine, author of The Angel of History and An Unnecessary Woman * Both generous in spirit and thought-provoking * Mail on Sunday * She has a deft touch and a warm style ... Happiness is full of elegantly-written passages that you will want to revisit to make sense of changing circumstances in an increasingly tumultuous world * Evening Standard * From the understated and inexorable pull of plot and emotion to the luxuriousness of the details of varied ways of living and being to the tidal pull of language, Happiness is a great accomplishment -- Viet Thanh Nguyen Powerfully affecting -- Alex Preston, 'The Best Fiction of 2018' * Observer * A deeply moving novel about love, trauma and the ties that bind us together. Beautifully written and ingeniously allegorical. Aminatta Forna is a writer of phenomenal talent, with a clear eye, a fearless voice, and an extraordinary range * Laila Lalami, author of The Moor's Account * Her prose quietly grips us by the throat and then tightens its hold. It is storytelling at its most taut ... A gifted writer -- Praise for 'The Hired Man' * Independent * - The best writer of fiction in this field ... The intelligence of Forna's storytelling is testament to a woman who has deep emotional resources -- Praise for 'The Hired Man' * Evening Standard * A fresh, immaculate stylist and an unsparing chronicler of human vices ... Profound -- Praise for 'The Hired Man' * The Times *
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