The Devil That Danced on the Water by Aminatta Forna
A Daughter's Quest

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Aminatta Forna's intensely personal history is a passionate and vivid account of an idyllic childhood that became the stuff of nightmare. As a child she witnessed the upheavals of postcolonial Africa, danger, flight, the bitterness of exile in Britain, and the terrible consequences of her dissident father's stand against tyranny. Mohamed Forna was a man of impeccable integrity and enchanting charisma. As Sierra Leone faced its future as a fledgling democracy, he was a new star in the political firmament, a man who had been one of the first black students to come to Britain after the war. He stole the heart of Aminatta's mother, to the dismay of her Presbyterian parents, and returned with her to Sierra Leone. But as Aminatta Forna shows with compelling clarity, the old Africa was torn apart by new ways of Western parliamentary democracy, which gave birth only to dictatorships and corruption of hitherto undreamed-of magnitude. It was not long before Mohamed Forna languished in jail as a prisoner of conscience, and worse to follow. Aminatta's search for the truth that shaped both her childhood and the nation's destiny began among the country's elite and took her into the heart of rebel territory. Determined to break the silence surrounding her father's fate, she ultimately uncovered a conspiracy that penetrated the highest reaches of government and forced the nation's politicians and judiciary to confront their guilt. The Devil that Danced on the Water is a book of pain and anger and sorrow, written with tremendous dignity and beautiful precision: a remarkable and important story of Africa.

About Aminatta Forna

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AMINATTA FORNA is a writer and broadcaster. She lives in London.
Published December 18, 2003 by Grove Press. 416 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Devil That Danced on the Water

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Corrupt dictators ended democratic rule, destroyed the economy, and ruthlessly punished opponents like Mohammed Forna, who believed in democracy.

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The Guardian

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The Devil That Danced on the Water: A Daughter's Memoir Aminatta Forna 409pp, HarperCollins, £17.99 When western television screens began to show women and children with amputated limbs, and other devastating evidence emerged of the descent into violence in Sierra Leone's civil war in the ...

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Publishers Weekly

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Forna saw her father for the last time on July 30, 1974;

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Entertainment Weekly

Forna spent much of her childhood shuttling between her European mother and her Sierra Leonean father, an almost impossibly principled and courageous man who rose to become minister of finance in 1968 by navigating the maze of alliances and enmities that constitute African politics: tribal lo...

Feb 07 2003 | Read Full Review of The Devil That Danced on the ...


Late one night when Forna was 10, her father—a Sierra Leone doctor and popular former cabinet minister—was taken from their home and executed in a government attempt to quash democracy.

Feb 17 2003 | Read Full Review of The Devil That Danced on the ...

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