From the author of The Hired Man, a novel bringing an American scientist and a Ghanaian psychologist together in London in a hunt for a missing boy--and an expansive tale of loss, hope, love, compassion, culture, and the true meaning of happiness.
Forna is too subtle and knowing a writer to create a straightforward, let alone inspirational, narrative. The action here may revolve around Attila’s search in London for a relative’s runaway child — a pleasingly simple mystery — but the novel has a wider orbit ... Happiness is a meditation on grand themes: Love and death, man and nature, cruelty and mercy. But Forna folds this weighty matter into her buoyant creation with a sublimely delicate touch.
Happiness is, for the most part, a tightly focused two-hander. We warm to both of the main characters through their struggles and their solidarity in the present. However, Forna creates fuller portraits by intercutting her narrative with flashbacks of their pasts ... Happiness starts out as a novel about coincidence — chance encounters, twists of fate — and turns into one about coexistence: how to overcome intolerance, accept differences and live in harmony. What could have been a strident, speechifying polemic is instead a subtle, considered yet deeply resonant tale, one which sensitively and intelligently highlights connection over division and kindness over cruelty.
This is not simply a love story, but a wider portrait of the ricocheting manifestations and effects of love in its various stages, as well as a serious examination of connection and coexistence ... The novel’s perspective is that of the nonchalant outsider, possessing the generosity of vision afforded by distance and thus perfectly placed for the best view ... Sprawling yet composed, worldly yet intimate, it is a tender evocation of the kaleidoscopic nature of the urban wilderness, as well as a challenge to the imposed centrality of the human animal.