Ameena Hussein was born in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Her parents influenced Ameena and her elder sister to read from a very young age. Growing up in socialist Sri Lanka, Ameena remembers reading at any available moment, including in school where her chosen book of fiction was cleverly camouflaged by a school book. Needless to say, she was not a very good student.
When she was young, at various moments she wanted to be a ballet dancer, an actress, an architect, a judge and changed her mind so often that eventually she was not sure what she wanted to be. What she definitely did not want to be was a music teacher which was her parents chosen profession for her.
She graduated with two degrees in Sociology, specializing in gender and ethnicity and worked for ten years in a non-governmental organization focusing on Violence against Women and Human Rights.
Influenced by her work in sociology, Ameena began writing short stories and eventually published her first book Fifteen in 1999. It was short listed for the Sri Lankan based Gratiaen Prize but was labeled ‘man-hating’ by the judges. Her second book of short stories Zillij appeared in 2003 and won the State Literary Prize.
She is a slow writer and took eight years to write her first novel. The Moon in the Water, which was long listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize and was published in 2009.
She currently runs her publishing house and alternates between living in Colombo with her cat Gingimani and in Puttlam with her dog Kahlua. Her husband and partner faithfully accompanies her wherever she is.