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The Devil That Danced on the Water


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About the Author

Aminatta Forna is a journalist, broadcaster and TV presenter. As an impressive speaker she has won several awards and one of her programmes on foreign adoption promoted a change in the law. She has written Mother of All Myths, a political, social and philosophical study of motherhood, and has also contributed to Itzin's Pornography: Women, Violence and Civil Liberties (OUP) and Conversations with Maya Angelou (Virago).


Forna, a writer and broadcaster who lives in London, has written this memoir as an act of catharsis and discovery. The daughter of a white British mother and a black African father from Sierra Leone, Forna focuses on her attempts to discover why her father, Mohamed, who became a prisoner of conscience, was executed for treason while she was a teenager going to school in England. Her journey is both mental and physical. She reexamines her childhood memories in painful detail and describes her later trips to Sierra Leone as an investigative reporter with a personal mission. After extensive interviews with some of her father's accusers, she shows conclusively that he was framed by his political enemies, who were led by the president of the country. More than a tale of vindication, this book is filled with powerful descriptions and moving details and if overly long is nevertheless an important work. Highly recommended for most libraries. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 19/15/02.]-A.O. Edmonds, Ball State Univ., Muncie, IN Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.

'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 'An extraordinary and gripping story... Aminatta Forna's book glows with compassion. A modern classic, of which her courageous father would have been proud' PETER GODWIN, author of Mukiwa 'An engrossing account of pain, love and discovery that had the capacity not only to make me understand but also to move me to tears' -- GILLIAN SLOVO, author of Every Secret Thing 'I had tears in my eyes almost the whole way through, although it is the least sentimental of books... Aminatta Forna manages, quite brilliantly, to evoke not only all the honour and pity that is in her family's story, but its beauty and tenderness too' -- KATIE HICKMAN, author of Daughters of Britannia

Forna saw her father for the last time on July 30, 1974; she was 10 years old. In this harrowing memoir-cum-detective story, journalist Forna searches for the truth about her father's execution in Sierra Leone after his treason conviction for allegedly attempting a coup upon the government in which he had once been a cabinet minister. Mohamed Forna, a British-educated doctor and activist in what was, in the 1960s, a fledgling democracy extricating itself from British colonialist rule, resigned from what had become a dictatorship rife with corruption and chaos. The consequences of that resignation culminated in eight executions and precipitated the descent into anarchy of Africa's poorest nation. Forna writes with a compelling mix of distance and anguish, intent on explaining her father's death and reclaiming his memory. Lush descriptions of her idyllic childhood provide eerie counterpoint to chilling depictions of the hell Sierra Leone had become upon her return in recent years, a place where bands of child warriors, hacking off limbs as both punishment and warning, have created a mutilated populace. The poverty her father tried to fight remains the only constant in the war-torn land. A harsh critic of her father's executioners, Forna nevertheless equivocates on the dictatorships that have wreaked havoc throughout Africa, querying her own identity as a diaspora mixed-race Afro-European. Reminiscent of Isabelle Allende's House of the Spirits, Forna's work is a powerfully and elegantly written mix of complex history, riveting memoir and damning expos. Agent, David Godwin. (Jan.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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