The Window Seat: Note from a Life in Motion

Aminatta Forna. Grove, $26 (272p) ISBN 978-0-8021-5858-1
Novelist Forna (Happiness) explores notions of place, identity, and movement in this bracing collection. In vignettes and long-form essays, she describes traveling through Mali; England, where she went to school; Sierra Leone, where she spent much of her childhood; and the U.S. In the title essay, Forna recalls flying as an unaccompanied minor, with maternal stewardesses and a heroic captain: “For six hours we lived inside the perfect patriarchy.” “Obama and the Renaissance Generation” captures the difference between an African and an American perspective on Barack Obama as she traces her own father’s history. The essays flit from childhood to adulthood and from place to place, which can at times be disorienting—the shorter essays, such as “Ice,” a three-page meditation on an ice skating performance, offer a welcome change of pace. Forna is a razor sharp prose stylist (airplanes, for example, are “like a galloping draught horse that, through sheer determination, somehow succeeds in clearing the oncoming fence”), and her attention to detail moves the collection forward, as in “Technicals,” in which she examines emotional responses to war vehicle model names: “Defender. Patrol. These names invoke violence, force.” Full of careful observations, Forna’s meditations hit the mark. (May)
Reviewed on : 02/03/2021
Release date: 05/01/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-8021-5986-1
Open Ebook - 978-0-8021-5859-8
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