Aminatta Forna, PhD, is an award-winning transnational writer; professor of subjects that include African Literature, Transnational Literature, and Creative Writing; and Director of the Lannan Center.
She grew up in a medical household, daughter of a Sierra Leonean doctor and a British mother. She was born in Scotland, and raised largely in Sierra Leone and Britain, also spending periods of her life in Iran, Thailand and Zambia, as a result of her stepfather’s work as a diplomat. Most recently, she has also lived in the United States for a sum of over 8 years, first as a fellow at the University of California, Berkeley in the late 1990s, then teaching at Williams College in 2011 and 2013, and currently at Georgetown University.
Her experience of movement and contact with different cultures have put her in a privileged position to understand and make sense of various ways of understanding reality and the misunderstandings surface between people from different backgrounds, which she has captured in her writing. She also highlights the value of reading outside one’s culture and exploring the parallels between the historical experiences of distinct regions, considering that the world is very much alike, and there is something to be learned from that.
Aminatta Forna is part of the second wave of African writers, who started writing in the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s to make sense of the dictatorships and dawn of independence across the African continent. Being part of that movement in history turned her into a politically engaged writer, whose writing engages with the real world, the medical world, the political world, the world of human experience.
In her essay published on Literary Hub, Aminatta Forna writes about her experience of insomnia, while she explores the insights of doctors, scientists, philosophers and writes who have analyzed sleeplessness in different ways.
Aminatta Forna talks with Zeze Oriaikhi-Sao about about the impact words can have on people, why she thinks appropriation can cause great damage to the literary and arts world, and why the elevation of victimhood does nothing for actual progress.
Aminatta Forna in conversation with Eula Biss, discussing her new book, The Window Seat: Notes From a Life in Motion, published by Grove Press. This event was originally broadcasted via Zoom and hosted by Josiah Luis Alderete.
On May 10, 2022, PEN America published a press release convening the Emergency Congress of Writers in Response to the War in Ukraine and Other Global Crises, which announced the gathering of nearly 100 authors, including Aminatta Forna, at the United Nations to Weigh Free Expression and the Role of Writers Amid Upheaval, on May 13.
Virtual reading and conversation with one of the most awarded literary authors in Scandinavia, Finnish-Estonian novelist and playwright , Sofi Oksanen. Moderated by Lannan Center Director, Aminatta Forna.
Evening with award-winning novelist and essayist, Valeria Luiselli. This event was moderated by Lannan Center Director and author Aminatta Forna and was cosponsored by the Georgetown Medical Humanities Initiative.