When Abie's family leave her a coffee plantation, she returns to Africa to find herself in a place suspended between past and present; between the real world and the unworldly. Standing among the ruined groves she strains to hear the sound of the past, but 'the layers of years in between us were too many'.
So begins her gathering of the past through the stories of her four aunts - Asana, Mary, Hawa and Serah. Each woman recounts her life from a mass of muddied memories and vivid recollections of the father they feared, the men they loved, the mothers who left them, and above all, the secrets they shared. What also emerges is the story of an Africa drawn to the temptations of the West but desperate to cling to its own ways. Immersed in silenced truths, whispered lies, and magical tales, these strong women attempt to alter the quiet course of their destinies and claim their own identities.
Stretching across sensibilities and generations, Ancestor Stones is a stunning novel of a nation, a family and the individual women whose stories explore different ways of seeing: how the past is understood through the filter of hindsight, how women come to see themselves through the eyes of others, and how stories ancient and new shape the world that we see.
First published 2006.
Aminatta was a judge for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2004 Her memoir, The Devil that Danced on the Water received excellent reviews, was a BBC Radio 4 "Book of the Week' and runner-up for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2003. An African version of Amy Tan's The Joy Luck Club For fans of Arundhati Roy's The God of Small Things and Barbara Kingsolver's The Poisonwood Bible
Praise for THE DEVIL THAT DANCED ON THE WATER: 'A deeply affecting and beautifully written book which transcends the sordid story of a power-hungry, murderous and corrupt regime ... It emerges defiantly as an uplifting and marvelously readable memoir.' Justin Marozzi, Financial Times 'She has lifted out of herself the emotional and cultural world of her childhood and represented it in scenes of startling beauty and tragedy. Few books merit being called courageous; this one does.' Rachel Cusk, Evening Standard 'This is a book of quite extraordinary power and beauty. Aminatta Forna has excavated not only her memory but the hidden recesses of the heart.' Fergal Keane
Aminatta Forna is an author, broadcaster and journalist. Her last book, The Devil that Danced on the Water, was runner-up for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2003. It was also serialised as 'Book of the Week' on BBC Radio 4 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. Aminatta 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.