Aminatta Forna was born in Scotland, raised in Sierra Leone and Britain, and spent periods of her childhood in Iran, Thailand, and Zambia. She is the award-winning author of the novels The Hired Man, The Memory of Love, and Ancestor Stones, and the memoir The Devil that Danced on the Water. She is Professor of Creative Writing, Bath Spa University, and in 2013 she held the post of Sterling Brown Distinguished Visiting Professor, Williams College, Massachusetts. In March 2014 Aminatta Forna was named a winner of the Donald Windham-Sandy M. Campbell Literature Prize awarded annually by Yale University.
The Hired Man, the story of a Croatian village and the English family who buy a holiday home there, is a tale of war, betrayal, and secrets that linger. The Hired Man was picked as one of the Best Books of 2013 by National Public Radio in the U.S., where it was also a Barnes & Noble 2013 Critics Choice. The Hired Man was selected as one of the best books of 2013 by The Boston Globe, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Independent, The Evening Standard, The Australian, and the NZ Listener.
The Memory of Love (Bloomsbury, April 2010) is a story about friendship, war, and obsessive love. The novel was winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize Best Book Award 2011, short-listed for the Orange Prize for Fiction 2011, the IMPAC Award 2012, and the Warwick Prize 2011, and nominated for the European Prize for Fiction 2013. It was selected as one of the Best Books of the Year by The Sunday Telegraph, The Financial Times, and The Times newspapers and was a New York Times Editor's Choice book.
The Devil that Danced on the Water (HarperCollins, 2002), a memoir of her dissident father and of Sierra Leone, was runner-up for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2003, was chosen for the Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers series, and was serialized on BBC Radio and in The Sunday Times newspaper.
Ancestor Stones (Bloomsbury, 2006) was winner of the Hurston Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction, the Liberaturpreis in Germany, and the Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize, and was nominated for the International Dublin IMPAC Award. It was also a New York Times Editor's Choice book, was selected by the The Washington Post as one of the Best Novels of 2006, and was one of The Listener magazine's Best 10 Books of 2006.
Aminatta's books have been translated into 15 languages.
Forna has also published short stories and was a finalist for the 2010 BBC National Short Story Award. Her essays and articles have appeared in Granta, The Times, The Observer, and Vogue. She has written for television and radio and her TV credits include The Lost Libraries of Timbuktu (BBC Television, 2009). A regular commentator on British arts programs, she has guest-presented BBC Radio's Open Book and Saturday Review.
Forna is a fellow and council member of the Royal Society of Literature and sits on the boards of the National Theatre of Great Britain, the General Committee of the Royal Literary Fund, and the Council of the Caine Prize for African Writing. She is also a member of the Folio Academy. She has acted as judge for a number of literary awards and was most recently a judge for the 2013 International Man Booker Prize.
In 2003 Forna established the Rogbonko Project to build a school in a village in Sierra Leone. The charity now runs a number of projects in the spheres of education, sanitation, and maternal health.
Aminatta Forna lives in South East London.