The Devil That Danced on the Water: A Daughter's Quest

The Devil That Danced on the Water A Daughter s Quest Praised as a shining example of what autobiography can be harrowing illuminating and thoughtful USA Today Aminatta Forna s intensely personal history is a passionate and vivid account of an idyllic

  • Title: The Devil That Danced on the Water: A Daughter's Quest
  • Author: Aminatta Forna
  • ISBN: 9780802140487
  • Page: 443
  • Format: Paperback
  • Praised as a shining example of what autobiography can be harrowing, illuminating and thoughtful USA Today , Aminatta Forna s intensely personal history is a passionate and vivid account of an idyllic childhood which became the stuff of nightmare As a child she witnessed the upheavals of post colonial Africa, danger, flight, the bitterness or exile in Britain and thePraised as a shining example of what autobiography can be harrowing, illuminating and thoughtful USA Today , Aminatta Forna s intensely personal history is a passionate and vivid account of an idyllic childhood which became the stuff of nightmare As a child she witnessed the upheavals of post colonial Africa, danger, flight, the bitterness or exile in Britain and the terrible consequences of her dissident father s stand against tyranny.Mohamed Forna was a man of unimpeachable 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.

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    1 thought on “The Devil That Danced on the Water: A Daughter's Quest”

    1. I take my hat off to the author, her research abilities and her stylist writing. A sad memoir about her early life before the arrest of her father, Mohamed Forna, one-time Minister of Finance in Sierra Leonne who made the mistake of being too popular and too good in his job. The author then had to wait 30 years to be able to obtain the records of his trial and execution from US, UN, and many other sources.Sierra Leone is a failed state and the author's upbringing in the 1970s was just at the sta [...]

    2. I didn't actually know anything about this book when I picked it up, but I recognised Aminatta Forna's name from another book I've been meaning to read. In hindsight, I feel I should've recognised her name far sooner through a different story. All I know is that this book tells the story of her memoir—of what and why, exactly, I had no clue. I prefer not to read the synopsis of a book upon buying it—and, most of the time, I pick up the right ones. Upon reading the preface/acknowledgement, I [...]

    3. Aminatta Forna’s father was a doctor, then activist and politician in Sierra Leone, rising to be Minister of Finance for a while before resigning in public protest at corruption in the government. But she was born in Scotland to a Scottish mother while her father was studying medicine there.Unfortunately politics in Sierra Leone was a dangerous business. We learn at the very start of the book that, when she was ten, her father was arrested and she never saw him again, but exactly what happened [...]

    4. This book has been compared to Wild Swans (for the childhood memories) and to The House of the Spirits (for the dissident political stuff). Quite apart from my personal interest in the subject (I was a Peace Corps teacher in Freetown a few years before the events in this book), I found it a sensitive memoir in which the writer is superb at rendering childhood memories of her parents' two cultures as well as an amazing personal journey during which she uses her investigative journalistism skills [...]

    5. This is a pretty good book about recent Sierra Leonean history. The author's father played an important role in S L government at the time of its transfer from British colonialism to self-rule, and according to Forna, everything he did was correct and upstanding, whereas all the others were corrupt, self-serving and basically, evil. I do not know enough detail about political historians' views of the 70s, 80s and 90s to know if this is correct or not. I do know that multiple attrocities were com [...]

    6. I picked up this book with absolutely no knowledge of its contents. Having read one of Forna's works of fiction previously, I was expecting a novel. In my blissful ignorance, I think I encountered one of the best written works I have read with elements of the auto-biographical and investigative journalism genres at their best. This is her real life story, of her British-educated Sierra Leonean father and his incredible passion for a country with so much potential, yet destroyed by greed corrupti [...]

    7. The book is a memoir of her father Dr Mohammed Forna, a Sierra Leone politician, who was executed by the government of Shaka Stevens of Sierra Leone. The book begins when she is 10 years old on the day her father was taken away never to be seen again by his family. Ms Forna then returns to her beginnings in Scotland and then on to life in the Forna family in Sierra Leone running parallel with the violent politics of post colonial Africa - coups, counter coups, deception, bribery, lies, torture a [...]

    8. This story is at once a political thriller, a historical text, and a biography. Aminatta Forna manages to skillfully weave her father's personal journey with her own, giving the reader an experience that is as painful as it is poignant. This Sierra Leonean journalist makes the harrowing journey from the daugher of a prominent physician and political leader to defending his legacy and name in the wake of his execution as a traitor, educating as she entertains. This tale of personal tragedy in a p [...]

    9. I knew almost nothing of Sierra Leone before I read this book, despite the fact that I know there are people in my town who had to leave it. This was one of those books that had me running to the Internet to find out more about the country, the food, the culture. It is a sad story about a post-colonial country trying to find its political feet. Mohamed Forna, the author's father, was a man of great integrity, who loved his country and gave his all for its people. It is a beautifully written memo [...]

    10. This memoir tells an intimate story of growing up in Sierra Leone, including Forna's investigation into her father's execution by the Sierra Leonean government. Mohamed, Aminatta's father, was a former minister in Siaka Stevens' increasingly violent and clientelist administration. Overtime, he became an icon of political virtue and a major opposition figure, once he resigned from the cabinet,. This is a beautifully written book that slowly builds from a series of recollections to a painful saga [...]

    11. One reviewer describes this book as "enormously compelling and painful reading". I couldn't agree more, as I found myself crying more than a few times. This book is pain and love and history. It's a daughter's quest to understand how and why her father was hanged by a government that wanted nothing more than to obliterate his existence. It's Aminatta Forna's Sierra Leone. The country of her childhood, and the one the greed of a few big men did not permit her to experience.

    12. Aminatta was the youngest of Mohammed Forna's three children and was ten years old when the Sierra Leonean dictatorship took him from his home. Aminatta tells story in two parts: the first is the story seen through the eye of Aminatta at 10 years old and effectively conveys the joy, mystery, and increasing danger after her father enters politics then resigns his post. As the reader, we are left with many questions and glimpses of happenings we do not understand. In the second half of the book we [...]

    13. While I admire her courage in investigating the heart-breaking sham trial and murder of her father in Sierra Leone, the writing style not so much. I thought the book needed an editor as I found her stream of consciousness and flipping back and forth in time disconcerting. I frequently had to reread passages to discover if she was in Scotland, Sierra Leone, or England. That said, a good addition to the literature on West Africa and Sierra Leone in particular.

    14. Hell of a story, that despite being non-fiction has an otherwordly feel as a young child moves between rural Aberdeenshire, post colonial Sierra Leone and London. Ultimately shocking and rage inducing , however I also found it difficult to keep track of everyone since so many people appear in the story across multiple timeframes. Really need to read more about Africa maybe I'll start with Wilbur Smith since my Mum loves him.

    15. Beautifully written account of Forna’s childhood spread across Sierra Leone, Scotland and London, and her later quest as an adult to understand the circumstances of her father’s arrest and trial. As her father moves from being a rural doctor to involvement in politics, at one point becoming Minister of Finance but at other points imprisoned and in exile, this becomes not just a memoir of an unusual childhood but also a story of Sierra Leonean history post independence. An interesting read.

    16. Just before I start, I just want to let you know that my edition is the pre publication edition. So some of the things I mention may differ to all the copies out there. Either way, this book is amazing!Aminatta is a brave woman. Her father a brave man. To stand up and be counted in countries such a the UK takes courage, but to do it in Sierra Leone, and about Sierra Leone, is something completely different. It takes another level of courage altogether.I am no expert on Sierra Leone, but I did le [...]

    17. I just finished reading this novel on my Nook; it was a gift from my daughter from last Christmas, off my multi-page wish list, and I didn't want to just let it sit there any more!! This introduced me to a world I truly know very little (perhaps next to nothing!) about, which is recent "history" of Sierra Leone. Aminatta Forna, the author, has created a sort of biography, and the daughter's quest mentioned in the subtitle was her efforts to investigate what really happened to her father, a forme [...]

    18. forna's bio and chronicle of her investigation into her father's disappearance/murder by the ruling regime (just before RUP exploded and started cutting off hands, selling blood diamonds, giving drugs to their child soldiers etc) in sierra leone. aminatta is daughter of mohamad forna (scottish trained md, and past finance minister to sierra leone) and scottish mom. mom bailed about when aminatta was 8 or so, never to really enter back into her childrens' or husband's lives. so this book really i [...]

    19. I was going to give this book a 4, but in the end I gave it a 5 for her dogged determination in uncovering the truth. She does get a few things wrong, such as the colour of Annie Walsh’s uniform. - It is green, not blue, but that does not detract from the story, which essentially is about what happened to her father. She basically wanted to know what he had done, to be put to death. I agree with one of the reviewers that it is not an easy read - especially for the casual reader. As a rule I do [...]

    20. "The first ten years of my life and the last ten years of his",, 6 June 2015This review is from: The Devil That Danced on the Water: A Daughter's Memoir (Hardcover)Autobiography, where the author revisits her childhood; as daughter of a Sierra Leone doctor and his Scottish wife, life becomes highly dangerous when her father becomes involved in politics. She recalls moving between her middle class African life and living in a caravan in Scotland. But while her father rises in the ranks of Sierra [...]

    21. The story of a girl growing up in Sierra Leone (some of the time) after independence, of her family, and her country. There is a fine balance between the personal and the political elements of the story, both of which are worth reading independently. I guess I’m getting old – when I was on the other side of Africa in Mozambique in 1997 I remember meeting someone from Freetown, whose family was still there. Seems like very long time ago! In any case, it is an arresting book regardless of ones [...]

    22. Without a a doubt this book was well researched with both a personal and professional passion. It does however remind me that memoirs are not for me. Researched, or not our recall will always be selective. Forna's delving into the history of her father's trial and hanging though necessary paints a picture of a man who seemed never to have faltered in either ethics or integrity and for that was persecuted in his political life.At times I found her almost unforgiving of others who did not also sta [...]

    23. This was recommended to me as a good book by a Sierra Leonean author, about Sierra Leone. I wanted to read something that gave me some understanding of the country, as it’s where I’m living right now. I wanted a Things Fall Apart for Sierra Leone.Forna’s younger self was a great lens through which to view the events of the past. Despite being so personally affected by the events, her naivety at the time and later search for truth, makes this book a perfect entry point for the more ignorant [...]

    24. A very thorough view of the history of Sierra Leone, though unfortunately much of it can never be properly verified. Forna comes at it from a very personal point of view, and makes the most of this perspective. (Reminded me of 'Paula' by Allende in this way.) Forna occasionally refers to the quandary of exactly what sort of closure she is searching for to understand the execution of her father, and exactly how she will know when she finds it, but I wished for more reflection on what was driving [...]

    25. I have only recently discovered this author, half Scottish by her mother and half African. This is her autobiography/biography of her father who was a doctor turned politician in his native Sierra Leone arrested and hanged in 1974 by the repressive regime then in power. Forna writes beautifully and movingly; about her father; about the beauties of the country and also about the horrors perpetrated. The story is told from the point of view of a ten year old child which was the age she was when he [...]

    26. While I enjoyed the thorough research and work that went into forging this book, I felt that the toil and complication of so many trips back and forth, interviews, really weighed heavily on the actual writing. It came across as a bit too journalistic at times (Forna is of course a journalist), but it gave the effect that one was reading a very laborious report at times. The plethora of names, dates, and places became a bit muddled and confusing for the neophyte of Sierra Leone social geography. [...]

    27. THE DEVIL THAT DANCED ON THE WATER, Aminatta Forna.This beautifully written and scrupulously researched autobiography is a daughter's search for truth about her father's fate. Aminatta is ten when the police come for her father who becomes a political prisoner. Dr Mohamed Forna had left his medical practice to help Sierra Leone's fledgling democracy gain a strong foothold. Corruption and chaos ensue when the democratically elected president turns into a power hungry dictator. Often quoting Alexa [...]

    28. The story provides a lot of detail regarding Aminata's life mostly in Sierra Leone during on-going civil war in SL which I thought might get tedious, but didn't for the large part. This could have been accomplished only by a very skillful writer. However, it did devolve during the last few chapters of the book with all the details of her father's political career and his undoing. Focusing on her feelings of being caught between two worlds (SL and Scotland - her mother was Scottish) would have ad [...]

    29. Her father's plight, unrelenting conviction and the price he paid, makes it an important record of a time in the history of Sierra Leone. However, I found this a tough tough read with too much padding yet so many unanswered questions. I found the author dichotomised her parents between the amazing untouchable father, and the fallible birth mother. In addition, because of the author's upbringing, it appeared that she was largely removed from the day to day lives of ordinary Sierra Leoneans, and i [...]

    30. Outstanding autobiographic/investigative account of Forna's bi-racial background and bi-cultural growing up in Sierra Leone and England. Feisty and inquisitive as a child-25 years after her father - Dr. Muhammad Forna is hung for treason Sierra Leone-Aminatta-dauntlessly tracks down the harrowing but-too often typical political corruption -civil unrest, and violent atmosphere in which her Dad and other Cabinet members dedicated to uplifting their country- were hung for their efforts ! A true tou [...]

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