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Talking Books

Writer Aminatta Forna and the exploration of silence

Countries in conflict are her theme. Aminatta Forna discusses her work and how literature can ask moral questions.

Aminatta Forna, of Sierra Leonean and Scottish heritage, is an award-winning author whose books explore the topics of betrayal, shared silence, love and loss.

Forna’s first work, The Devil that Danced on the Water (2002) was a memoir that investigated the death of her father, who was hanged in Sierra Leone in 1975, falsely accused of treason. Her second book, Ancestor Stones (2006) concerns a Londoner who inherits a coffee plantation, and The Memory of Love (2010), her third, explored the traumatic civil war in Sierra Leone and its destructive effect.

Her latest novel, The Hired Man (2013), looks at the impact of secrets in a town in the former Yugoslavia. It is also her first book set outside Africa.

Forna talks to Razia Iqbal about her focus on countries that have experienced conflict and oppression, and the effect of secrets and silence on nations. She explains how she uses literature as a way of asking moral questions, exploring those questions to their limits.

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