Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press
Atlantic Monthly Press


by Aminatta Forna

A delicate tale of love and loss, of cruelty and kindness, from Aminatta Forna.

  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Page Count 320
  • Publication Date March 06, 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-2755-6
  • Dimensions 6" x 9"
  • US List Price $26.00
  • Imprint Atlantic Monthly Press
  • Publication Date March 06, 2018
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-6557-2
  • US List Price $26.00

About the Book

London. A fox makes its way across Waterloo Bridge. The distraction causes two pedestrians to collide—Jean, an American studying the habits of urban foxes, and Attila, a Ghanaian psychiatrist there to deliver a keynote speech. From this chance encounter, Aminatta Forna’s unerring powers of observation show how in the midst of the rush of a great city lie numerous moments of connection.

Attila has arrived in London with two tasks: to deliver a keynote speech on trauma, as he has done many times before; and to contact the daughter of friends, his “niece,” Ama, who hasn’t called home in a while. Ama has been swept up in an immigration crackdown, and now her young son Tano is missing.

When, by chance, Attila runs into Jean again, she mobilizes the neighborhood rubbish men she uses as volunteer fox spotters. Security guards, hotel doormen, traffic wardens—mainly West African immigrants who work the myriad streets of London—come together to help. As the search for Tano continues, a deepening friendship between Attila and Jean unfolds.

Meanwhile a consulting case causes Attila to question the impact of his own ideas on trauma, the values of the society he finds himself in, and a grief of his own. In this delicate tale of love and loss, of cruelty and kindness, Forna asks us to consider the interconnectedness of lives, our coexistence with one another and all living creatures, and the true nature of happiness.

Tags Literary


He turned his head back to her and Jean looked away. There was, she thought, a moment between men and women in which a woman can no longer meet a certain man’s gaze. Men held the power of the gaze, the freedom to look upon women as they pleased. In public a woman looked freely only upon men with whom there was no possibility of sex or the mistaken presumption of desire, in other words the very (very) old and the very young. In company women looked at men who might be colleagues or neighbours or married to women they knew, but even then their gaze was guarded. The moment friendship transformed into something else the woman looked away.

For the first time since she met Attila, Jean found she couldn’t look at him as easily as she once surely had, when she had sat with him on the bench overlooking the Thames, walking the streets of the capital, in the cafe. She felt that if their eyes were to meet he would see what was inside. She could feel him looking at her as she poured the coffee, though he said nothing as he accepted the cup she passed. Attila took a single sip of his coffee and set the cup down on the table. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I have something to which I must attend.”

Author Tour Dates



Washington, DC

5015 Connecticut Ave NW

5:00 PM


Seattle, WA

Co-presented by Elliott Bay Book Co.
1000 Fourth Avenue



Houston, TX

In conversation with Samanta Schweblin
Alley Theatre
615 Texas Avenue

7:30 PM


Cambridge, MA

1256 Massachusetts Ave

7:00 PM


New York, NY

In conversation with Alan Hollinghurst
Buttenwieser Hall
1395 Lexington Avenue

8:00 PM