THE DEVIL THAT DANCED ON THE WATER: A Daughter's Quest

Aminatta Forna, Author . Atlantic Monthly $26 (416p) ISBN 978-0-87113-865-1

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 exposé. Agent, David Godwin. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/04/2002
Release date: 01/01/2003
Paperback - 403 pages - 978-0-00-653126-5
Hardcover - 403 pages - 978-0-00-257065-7
Paperback - 403 pages - 978-0-8021-4048-7
Show other formats
FORMATS
Discover what to read next
TIP SHEET
MORE BOOKS YOU'D LIKE
X
X