By Aminatta Forna
(Atlantic Monthly Press, Hardcover, 9780871139443, 336pp.)
Publication Date: August 1, 2006
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The author of the rapturously acclaimed memoir The Devil That Danced on the Water seamlessly turns her hand to fiction and delivers a novel that is a lush and beautiful portrait of several generations of African women. In Ancestor Stones , a young woman from West Africa, who has lived in England for many years, returns after years of civil war. The family's coffee plantation has been placed in her hands, and she turns to her aunts—women who were mysterious and a bit intimidating to her younger self—who begin to tell their stories. They are timeless tales of rivalrous co-wives, patriarchal society, and old religions challenged by Islamic and Christian incursions; they are modern stories of European-owned mining companies, the repressive influence of mission schools, corrupt elections, and the postcolonial African elite. Through their voices a family history interwoven with the history of a country emerges—one of a society both ancient and modern, of a family of strong women refusing to live as second-class citizens. Powerful and sensuously written, Ancestor Stones is a wonderful achievement that recalls The God of Small Things and The Joy Luck Club , and establishes Forna as a gifted novelist.