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Happiness: A Novel Hardcover – March 6, 2018

4.3 out of 5 stars 138 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for Happiness:

“Forna’s fourth novel, Happiness, is a comprehensive tale of love, prejudicial conflict, coexistence between man and nature, and the success we invite when we embrace good and bad experiences . . . Forna ultimately implores readers to understand complexities of any people and to accept coexistence ― be it with various cultures or internally ― as we learn to live with our experiences, good and bad.”Los Angeles Review of Books

“Forna isn’t in the business of offering cheap comfort . . . In the richness of its urban portrait and the nuance of its narrative, Happiness makes clear that life is always complex and kindness not a cure-all. This is a book about humanity’s glorious, irreducible mess; a book filled with grief, largesse and joy. It is not about escapism, or about making us feel good; rather it’s about making us feel everything.”Times Literary Supplement (UK)

“Arresting . . . Throughout Happiness, Forna stops in our tracks . . . Reminiscent at times of Michael Ondaatje’s novel Anil’s Ghost. . . Happiness is a meditation on grand themes: Love and death, man and nature, cruelty and mercy. But Forna folds this weighty matter into her buoyant creation with a sublimely delicate touch.” ―Washington Post

“Finely structured . . . [Happiness] powerfully succeeds on an intimate level.”New York Times Editors’ Choice

“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, author of The Golden House

“Profound and convincing . . . 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. . . a vision of [London] so vivid and multilayered that it becomes the novel’s central figure.”Observer (UK)

“From the understated and inexorable pull of plot and emotion to the luxuriousness of the details of varied ways of living and being to the tidal pull of language, Happiness is a great accomplishment.” ―Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer and The Refugees

“With Happiness, [Forna] pulls it off again . . . It is testament to Forna that none of this feels heavy. She has a deft touch and a warm style . . . Happiness is full of elegantly-written passages that you will want to revisit to make sense of changing circumstances in an increasingly tumultuous world.”Evening Standard (UK)

“Mesmerizing . . . 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 (UK)

“Absorbing . . . Forna’s prose is precise and often stunning in its clarity . . . [Happiness] burns brightly when it matters most.”―Seattle Times

“[A] piercingly intelligent and interrogative novel . . . [Happiness] registers tectonic shifts taking place in the world and provokes us to think anew about war, and what we take for peace and happiness.”The Spectator (UK)

“A tightly focused two-hander . . . Happiness starts out as a novel about coincidence―chance encounters, twists of fate―and turns into one about coexistence: how to overcome intolerance, accept differences and live in harmony . . . A subtle, considered yet deeply resonant tale, one which sensitively and intelligently highlights connection over division and kindness over cruelty.” ―Minneapolis Star-Tribune

“Piercingly empathetic, Forna’s latest explores instinct, resilience, and the complexity of human coexistence, reaffirming her reputation for exceptional ability and perspective.” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Forna’s novel is unusual and engaging, heartfelt and ambitiously crafted.”Shelf Awareness

“A symphony on coexistence between partners in a marriage, between groups in a city, between strangers and old loves, and between a person and their memories, their past selves.”―THE Magazine

“The overarching message tucked into Scottish and Sierra Leonian writer Forna’s quietly resonant novel is this: Every living thing is the net sum of its history, and we carry the weight of our past on our shoulders . . . Intricately woven . . . Forna’s novel is ultimately a mesmerizing tale studded with exquisite writing” ―Booklist (starred review)

“Aminatta Forna has crafted a complex and deeply human story. African in its worldview of convergence and simultaneity, yet universal in its range of possibility and choice. Nuanced and delightful, this story takes place inside the reader’s own nostalgia. Gorgeous.” ―Chris Abani, author of The Secret History of Las Vegas

Happiness is 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

Happiness is 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

“Piercingly empathetic, Forna’s latest explores instinct, resilience, and the complexity of human coexistence, reaffirming her reputation for exceptional ability and perspective.” ―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Elegant . . . Potent and immersive . . . Forna’s gift for characterization allows her to ask genuine, practical questions about the delicate problems of the human condition in this ambitious novel.” ―Publishers Weekly

“It is a novel that carries a tremendous sense of the world, where I looked up upon finishing and sensed a shift in what I thought I knew, what I wanted to know. What a gift. . . Readers are in for a treat.” ―The Millions, “A Year in Reading: Paul Yoon”

“Intertwining psychological, historical, and scientific insights, and seamlessly incorporating vignettes set in Iraq, Bosnia, and New England, Happiness explores the unexpected parallels between urban wildlife and the humans living next them . . . Aminatta Forna has given us a pertinent novel, one whose prose is fluid and dynamic.”Zyzzyva

About the Author

Aminatta Forna is the author of the novels Ancestor Stones, The Memory of Love, and The Hired Man, as well as the memoir The Devil That Danced on the Water. Forna's books have been translated into sixteen languages. Her essays have appeared in Granta, The Guardian, The Observer, and Vogue. She is currently the Lannan Visiting Chair of Poetics at Georgetown University.

Product details

  • Item Weight : 1.1 pounds
  • ISBN-10 : 080212755X
  • Hardcover : 368 pages
  • ISBN-13 : 978-0802127556
  • Publisher : Atlantic Monthly Press (March 6, 2018)
  • Product Dimensions : 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.3 out of 5 stars 138 ratings