Aminatta Forna was born in Scotland, raised in Sierra Leone and Great Britain and spent periods of her childhood in Iran, Thailand and Zambia. She is the award-winning author of the novels Happiness, The Hired Man, The Memory of Love and Ancestor Stones, and a memoir, The Devil that Danced on the Water. Her latest book, an essay collection, The Window Seat: Notes from a Life in Motion, was published in 2021.
The recipient of a Windham Campbell Award from Yale University, Aminatta has won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize Best Book Award and been a finalist for the Neustadt Prize for Literature (widely regarded as the most prestigious international literary award after the Nobel), the Baillie Gifford Prize, the Women's Prize for Fiction and the IMPAC Award. She is also winner of a Hurston Wright Legacy Award, the Liberaturpreis in Germany and the Aidoo-Snyder Book Prize. Aminatta is a past recipient of a Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship. Her latest novel Happiness was a finalist for the Ondaatje Prize and the Jhalak Prize, and nominated for the European Prize for Fiction. To date Aminatta's books have been translated into twenty-two languages.
Aminatta has acted as judge for the The International Man Booker, the Giller Prize, the Baillie Gifford Prize, the Women's Prize for Fiction, the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award and the Caine Prize.
Her essays have appeared in Freeman's, Granta, The Guardian, LitHub, The Nation, The New York Review of Books, The Observer and Vogue. She has written stories for BBC radio and written and presented television documentaries including "The Lost Libraries of Timbuktu" (BBC Television, 2009) and "Girl Rising" (CNN, 2013).
Currently Aminatta holds the position of Director of the Lannan Center at Georgetown University and is a Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University.
In 2003 Aminatta established the Rogbonko Project to build a school in a village in Sierra Leone. The charity has also run a number of projects in the spheres of adult education, sanitation and maternal health.
Aminatta Forna is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was made OBE in the Queen's New Year's Honours 2017.