A breathtaking novel from Orange Prize-shortlisted and Commonwealth Writers' Prize-winning author Aminatta Forna
Waterloo Bridge, London. Two strangers collide. Attila, a Ghanaian psychiatrist, and Jean, an American studying the habits of urban foxes. From this chance encounter in the midst of the rush of a great city, numerous moments of connections span out and interweave, bringing disparate lives together.
Attila has arrived in London with two tasks: to deliver a keynote speech on trauma and to check up on the daughter of friends, his 'niece', Ama, who hasn't called home in a while. It soon emerges that she has been swept up in an immigration crackdown – and now her young son Tano is missing.
When, by chance, Attila bumps into Jean again, she joins him in his search for Tano, mobilizing into action the network she has built up, mainly from the many West African immigrants working London's myriad streets, of volunteer fox-spotters: security guards, hotel doormen, traffic wardens. All unite to help and as the search continues, a deepening friendship between Attila and Jean unfolds.
In this delicate yet powerful novel of loves lost and new, of past griefs and of the hidden side of a teeming metropolis, Aminatta Forna asks us to consider the values of the society we live in, our co-existence with one another and all living creatures – and the true nature of happiness.
“Forna's voice is relentlessly compelling, her ability to summon atmosphere extraordinary, her sympathetic portrayal of traffic wardens, street performers, security guards, hotel doormen a thing of lasting beauty. It is as if the author has privileged access into multiple spheres of existence, learning the secret languages of each, conferring dignity and consequence on these figures who often pass unseen and unrecorded in our accounts of contemporary life” – Observer
“Forna is a risk-taker, a writer who doesn't hold back from tackling big themes … Happiness is one of a handful of contemporary novels that take both the human condition and the animal condition seriously. Entering Forna's sweeping universe transports you to a place that feels familiar, but also totally feral and full of surprises” – Financial Times
“Aminatta Forna expertly weaves her characters' stories, past and present, in and out of the larger story of London, which becomes as rich a character as the human beings and, indeed, the foxes; and she makes us care deeply about them all, the foxes, the people and the city. A terrific novel” – Salman Rushdie
“One of the best novels I've read in quite a while – intelligent, deep and poignant. It sheds smooth, unflinching light upon the unseen. Forna is at the top of her game” – Rabih Alameddine, author of The Angel of History and An Unnecessary Woman
“Both generous in spirit and thought-provoking” – Mail on Sunday
“From the understated and inexorable pull of plot and emotion to the luxuriousnessof the details of varied ways of living and being to the tidal pull of language, Happiness is a great accomplishment” – Viet Thanh Nguyen,
“Powerfully affecting ” – Alex Preston, 'The Best Fiction of 2018', Observer
“A deeply moving novel about love, trauma and the ties that bind us together. Beautifully written and ingeniously allegorical. Aminatta Forna is a writer of phenomenal talent, with a clear eye, a fearless voice, and an extraordinary range” – Laila Lalami, author of The Moor's Account