Ancestor Stones by Aminatta Forna
In Ancestor Stones, a young woman from West Africa, who has lived in England for many years and is married to a British man, returns to visit her family after years of civil war. Her four aunts have decided to leave her the family coffee plantation, as she is the last person in the family with the means to revive its fortunes. And on this trip home she is given an unprecedented look into the lives of the women in her family as her aunts Mary, Hawa, Asana, and Serah— women who were mysterious and a bit intimidating to her younger self—begin to tell her 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.
In her debut foray into fiction, Forna has created a powerful, sensuously written novel that, through the lives of women, beautifully captures Africa’s past and present, and the legacy that her daughters take with them wherever they live. It is a wonderful achievement that recalls The God of Small Things and The Joy Luck Club, and establishes Forna as a gifted novelist.
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