Aminatta Forna

Aminatta Forna writes through and beyond personal experience to speak to the wider world in subtly constructed narratives that reveal the ongoing aftershocks of living through violence and war.

Aminatta Forna was born in Scotland, raised in Sierra Leone and Britain and spent periods of her childhood in Iran, Thailand, and Zambia. The personal and political impact of war on its victims and perpetrators is a persistent theme in her work, which includes four novels and a memoir, The Devil That Danced on the Water. She was awarded the 2011 Commonwealth Writer’s Prize for The Memory of Love, which was also shortlisted for the Orange Prize, the IMPAC prize, and the Warwick Prize. The Hired Man tells the story of a British family that moves to a formerly war-torn Croatian town. The area’s suppressed history of deep-seated and habitual hatred is incrementally revealed, exposing the raw emotion that characterizes the lives of ordinary people who survive wars and carry on living. She has been called a “global, transnational writer” who proves that a great author can write outside her experience and produce an ambitious and powerful story.

When the email with news of the award arrived I showed it to my husband, I said: 'It’s a hoax, surely?’ Well, it wasn’t a hoax, rather it was just the best news. The Windham-Campbell Prize offers a writer what we most crave: time to write, free from deadlines, financial pressures, the expectations of others. It is a wonderful idea, a gesture of remarkable generosity, and in the current climate when the pursuit of fiction faces so many challenges, very welcome indeed. I am honoured, I am grateful, I am delighted. AMINATTA FORNA