Aminatta Forna was born in Scotland, and raised in Sierra Leone and Britain. She is the author of a memoir, The Devil That Danced on the Water, and three novels, The Hired Man, The Memory of Love and Ancestor Stones. She is currently the Lannan Visiting Chair of Poetics at Georgetown University. (November 2017)

Follow Aminatta Forna on Twitter: @aminattaforna.


The Afterlife of a Memoir

Briton Rivière: Daniel in the Lions' Den, 1872

The writer of a memoir must necessarily reveal a great deal about herself or himself, and often about other people, too. You sacrifice your own privacy, and you sacrifice the privacy of others to whom you may have given no choice. To be the author of a memoir is also to become a confessional for other people. All over the world, people tell me their stories. Sometimes, sharing their stories with me is all they want, and it is enough. Sometimes, they want a wider recognition for their stories. To them, I say this: write, but only if you are sure you want to live with the consequences every day for the rest of your life.