Bloomsbury to Publish Happiness by Aminatta Forna

‘Forna’s voice is relentlessly compelling, her ability to summon atmosphere extraordinary … A thing of lasting beauty’ Observer

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 fox­spotters: 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 co­existence with one another and all living creatures – and the true nature of happiness.

  • The most profound and ambitious novel from Aminatta Forna. The Memory of Love was longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Award, shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Warwick Prize, and won Best Book at the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. The Devil that Danced on the Water was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. In 2014 she was named as a winner of the Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prize
  • Forna is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a member of the Folio Academy. She has judged a number of literary awards
  • For fans of Zadie Smith, Colum McCann, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche and Rose Tremain


“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

Author Biography: Aminatta Forna is the author of Ancestor Stones, The Hired Man and The Memory of Love, winner of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book and shortlisted for the Orange Prize for Fiction. Her memoir The Devil that Danced on the Water was a Samuel Johnson Prize finalist. Forna lives in London and Virginia.

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