Ancestor Stones - Aminatta Forna

Forna's talent lies within her ability to construct myth around the hard facts of reality.

Book Review by Claire Mapletoft | 14 Aug 2006

A rising star on the literary scene, Aminatta Forna achieved recognition after the publication of her childhood memoir of life in Sierra Leone, 'The Devil That Danced on the Water'. Forna's talent lies in her ability to construct myth around the hard facts of reality. 'Ancestor Stones' is the tale of four sisters living in 20th Century Africa at a time when change is beginning to unfold, and new stories and legends are being created. Forna's novel explores how stories affect our behaviour, our reality, and the people we ultimately become.

The sense of dialogue with the past is captivating. The narrative occasionally becomes bogged down in lengthy accounts of African myth, but it is this strong emphasis on myth that connects the four wildly different sisters to the past and to each other in the present. The result is a compelling plot, portraying hopes, ideas and dreams in a world that is slowly beginning to crumble, only to be reconstructed in ways that harshly depart from the normal. The overall depth of the novel, its relevance to our own time, and the diversity of Forna's characters all make for a thoughtful, provocative and magical work.

Aminatta Forna appears with Heather McGowan at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, Highland Park Spiegeltent, August 20, 10:15
Ancestor Stones is Out Now