An intimate and moving portrait of a family combined with an account of the events which swept through Africa in the post-independence period.
Aminatta Forna's intensely personal history is a passionate and vivid account of an African childhood - of an idyll that became a nightmare. As a child she witnessed the upheavals of post-colonial Africa, the bitterness of exile in Britain and the terrible consequences of her dissident father's stand against tyranny.
Mohamed Forna, a man of unimpeachable integrity and great charisma, was a new star in the political firmament Sierra Leone as the country faced its future as a fledgling democracy. Always a political firebrand, he was one of the first black students to come to Britain after the war. In Aberdeen he stole the heart of Aminatta's mother, to the dismay of her Presbyterian parents, and returned with her to Sierra Leone. But the new ways of Western parliamentary democracy were tearing old Africa apart, giving rise only to dictatorships and corruption of hitherto undreamed-of magnitude. It was not long before Aminatta's father languished in jail as a prisoner of conscience, and there was worse to come.
Aminatta's search for the truth that shaped both her childhood and the nation's destiny begins among the country's elite and takes her into the heart of rebel territory. Determined to break the silence surrounding her father's fate, she ultimately uncovered a conspiracy that penetrated the highest reaches of government and forced the nation's politicians and judiciary to confront their guilt.
Aminatta Forna is a writer and author of The Devil that Danced on the Water, a memoir of her dissident father. Her most recent book Ancestor Stones, a novel, was published in July 2006 and tells the story of the lives of four sister, daughters of a wealthy West African plantation owner. Published in 2002, The Devil that Danced on the Water was runner-up for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2003 serialised as 'Book of the Week' on BBC Radio and extracted in the Sunday Times newspaper in the UK. In the United States it was selected for the Barnes & Noble new writers Discovery series. Aminatta returned to Sierra Leone to film a documentary series 'Africa Unmasked,' which examined many of the themes of her recent book. The series aired on Channel 4 in November 2002. A former BBC reporter, she reported and presented on various politics, current affairs and arts programmes between 1989 and 1999. She is a contributor to several newspapers including the Independent, The Observer, the Sunday Times and the Evening Standard. She has acted as a judge for the MacMillan African Writer's Prize in 2003, the Samuel Johnson Prize in 2004 and the Caine Prize for Africa 2005 and 2006. She sits on the board of the Caine Prize and also Index on Censorship.