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The hired man /

Gost is surrounded by mountains and fields of wild flowers. The summer sun burns. The winter brings freezing winds. Beyond the boundaries of the town an old house which has lain empty for years is showing signs of life. One of the windows, glass darkened with dirt, today stands open, and the... Full description

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Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2013
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SUMMARY

The new novel from the winner of the Commonwealth Writer's Prize, The Hired Man is a taut, powerful novel of a small town and its dark wartime secrets, unwittingly brought into the light by a family of outsiders.

Aminatta Forna has established herself as one of our most perceptive and uncompromising chroniclers of war and the way it reverberates, sometimes imperceptibly, in the daily lives of those touched by it. With The Hired Man , she has delivered a tale of a Croatian village after the War of Independence, and a family of newcomers who expose its secrets.

Duro is off on a morning's hunt when he sees something one rarely does in Gost: a strange car. Later that day, he overhears its occupants, a British woman, Laura, and her two children, who have taken up residence in a house Duro knows well. He offers his assistance getting their water working again, and soon he is at the house every day, helping get it ready as their summer cottage, and serving as Laura's trusted confidant.

But the other residents of Gost are not as pleased to have the interlopers, and as Duro and Laura's daughter Grace uncover and begin to restore a mosaic in the front that has been plastered over, Duro must be increasingly creative to shield the family from the town's hostility, and his own past with the house's former occupants. As the inhabitants of Gost go about their days, working, striving to better themselves and their town, and arguing, the town's volatile truths whisper ever louder.

A masterpiece of storytelling haunted by lost love and a restrained menace, this novel recalls Disgrace by J.M. Coetzee and Anil's Ghost by Michael Ondaatje. The Hired Man confirms Aminatta Forna as one of our most important writers.


Review by Booklist Review

Set in and around a small Croatian village, Forna's (The Memory of Love, 2011) accomplished and intricate novel explores the effects of war and the endurance and significance of memory. The town of Gost is the lifelong home to 46-year-old narrator Duro Kolak, a hunter and handyman. It's the summer of 2007 when a woman from Britain, Laura, arrives in Gost with her two teenage children, Grace and Matthew. Having purchased a long-abandoned house at the edge of town, Laura has come to fix it up to use as a summer getaway. Duro offers his services for hire, quickly befriending the family and acting as a local guide. When the remains of a mosaic are uncovered beneath a wall of plaster, Duro helps Grace with its meticulous restoration, while deflecting suspicions of the townspeople, who grow increasingly wary of the outsiders. As the house's restoration becomes entwined with Duro's recollections of his past, Forna leads readers to the gradual, raw revelation of a town devastated by war and haunted by the aftermath.--Strauss, Leah Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

In this moving novel from Forna (The Memory of Love), the scars left by the Croatian War of Independence underlie a deceptively simple account of a Croat developing a relationship with foreigners moving into his village. Exactly what Duro Kolak experienced in the fighting that enveloped Gost, his small town, is only hinted at for much of the book, creating a suspenseful backdrop. As the story opens in 2007, Duro meets Laura, an Englishwoman who has arrived in Gost with her family to start a new life. He offers her his assistance, even as other locals are less than pleased to have the newcomers around. Forna does an exquisite job of contrasting her leads' perspectives on Gost-Laura thinks it's "one of the most beautiful places" she's ever been, while Duro sees past the tranquil surface to the region's blood-soaked recent past. This is a powerful exploration of the impact that violence has on those who suffer it and those who inflict it. Agent: David Godwin, David Godwin Associates. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Set in Croatia, this mesmerizing novel examines the aftermath of war and genocide. Protagonist Duro Kolak takes a job making repairs to a house bought by a British family as an investment in the appropriately named town of Gost. These outsiders are clueless about the horrors of the town's past, unable to see beyond its pastoral beauty and income potential. As a mosaic is uncovered at the house, Duro must deal with his memories of a time when friends betrayed one another and loved ones disappeared. What's most interesting about this story is its portrayal of how those who survive atrocities must learn how to continue to live together. Duro manages by living alone with his dogs and exacting petty revenge when possible. The character's loneliness and his sense of loss are palpable, and his relationship with his pets is moving. Forna's own father, a political dissident, was executed in Sierra Leone when she was a child. The loss hovers over her writings and is the subject of her memoir, The Devil That Danced onĂ…the Water. VERDICT Highly recommended and likely to find appreciation among fans of Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner, another tale of friendship and betrayal. [See Prepub Alert, 4/22/13.]-Evelyn Beck, Piedmont -Technical Coll., Greenwood, SC (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
AUTHOR NOTES

Aminatta Forna is the author of two novels, Ancestor Stones and The Memory of Love , and The Devil That Danced on the Water , a memoir of her activist father, and her country, Sierra Leone. She lives in London.


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