Aminatta Forna: ‘My own books make me cry as I write – it’s pathetic’

The author on struggling with Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels and the book that inspired her to become a writer

The book I am currently reading
David Maraniss’s meticulous and absorbing biography of Barack Obama. I’ve also just begun Sofi Oksanen’s Purge, and have been rationing myself to one exquisite poem a day from John Freeman’s collection Maps.

The book that changed my life 
Isabel Allende’s The House of the Spirits. The ructions of many African countries mirrored those of the South American countries, which were then rich in literature. Allende’s work resonated with me in a way no English novel could at that time. It marked a tipping point, towards becoming a writer.

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