The Hired Man

The Hired Man

A Novel

Book - 2013
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Baker & Taylor
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 darkenedwith dirt, today stands open, and the lively chatter of English voices carries across the fallow fields. Laura and her teenage children have arrived. A short distance away lies the hut of Duro Kolak who lives alone with his two hunting dogs. As he helps Laura with repairs to the old house, they uncover a mosaic beneath the ruined plaster and, in the rising heat of summer, painstakingly restore it. But Gost is not all it seems; conflicts long past still suppurate beneath the scars.

Perseus Publishing
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.

& Taylor

A British woman and her two children move into a small Croatian village after the War of Independence and befriend a handyman who helps shield them from the locals' hostility towards strangers.
A British woman and her two children move into a small Croatian village after the War of Independence and befriend a local handyman who helps shield them from the locals' hostilities towards strangers. 20,000 first printing.

Publisher: New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, c2013
ISBN: 9780802121912
Branch Call Number: FIC FOR
Characteristics: 293 p. ;,22 cm.


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Aug 25, 2017

Set in Croatia, this novel looks back to ethnic cleansing in a small community during the breakup of the former Yugoslavia during the 1990s. Its themes are betrayal and the horror of civil war and Forna evokes the oppressive atmosphere of guilt and denial in its aftermath.

LakeErieLisa Jan 24, 2015

Unique, intriguing, incredibly well-written. A novel written by an African woman who lives in England about Croatia, told in the 1st person voice of a Croatian man. Kind of amazing!

hs69 Oct 25, 2014

This is a great book. It's well-written and gripping, but not a light read. It's true it doesn't give much insight into this particular conflict, but Forna's goal seems to be to explore how trauma and war effect memory. She manages to keep the story universal.

May 25, 2014

Good book, minus one star because it ended in the middle. It was creepy, well-written, I wasn't sure if I liked our main character or not, but I really wanted to know what happened. Then it just ended.

May 11, 2014

The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna places the reader in a unique position: although the first-person narration gives seeming omniscience into the title character's perspective, over time, it becomes apparent that the reader is as much a stranger in a strange land as the British family unaware of the depths of hurt and violence the narrator and his Croatian countrymen suffered in the war and still carry with them two decades on. The narrator does not lay blame or accusation of ignorance on the reader nor the family, but instead molds his story to the listener, carefully parceling out details - even the final, wrenching revelations of atrocity and betrayal - only according to the listener's capacity to withstand them.

Apr 22, 2014

Good writing, and good storytelling, but the author offers little insight into the subject.

Feb 16, 2014

Excellent book, intriguing and well written. The pace keeps you ready for more with each page. I will be ordering the other books she has written.

Sep 09, 2013

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and the intrigue of the characters and their pasts was revealed in such a way that it tempted, or encouraged, you to keep reading. A insightful look at the connections we make, often innocent, and how they affect our decisions, our memories, our lives. The last 100 or so pages I just couldn't put it down.

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