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Does trauma define the person? Aminatta Forna's latest novel, Happiness, explores love and loss

By Laura Angela Bagnetto

The chance meeting of a Ghanaian psychiatrist and an American urban biologist tracking foxes in London sets the pace for Happiness, the latest novel by award-winning writer Aminatta Forna. Does experiencing a traumatic event damage a person forever? Dr. Attila Asare, bucking traditional trauma research, examines his theory partially through flashbacks for the reader, as well as his attention to a case that he is indirectly tied to.

Noted trauma specialist Dr. Attila Asare comes to London for a conference, plans to visit a relative and see an old flame. He is recovering from the recent death of his wife. Scientist Jean Turane is tracking foxes in London for a project when she becomes involved in Asare's life. She engages a team she has created of fox spotters-- immigrants to the UK who work at night as street cleaners, doormen -- to look for his lost young relative on the streets of London.

Forna sets up the back story of Dr Attila Asare, a civilian trauma expert, as she reads an excerpt from her novel, Happiness. Loss and newfound love come together on the page in her latest work.

 

 

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