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The Hired Man Hardcover – October 1, 2013
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Top Customer Reviews
In this perceptively put together story, Duro, the central protagonist tells us that the English love the past, but he and his fellow countrymen love the future, because the past is the last place they want to be.
The descriptions of situation and setting, give this novel a powerful sense of place. But there is much more, a real feeling for the characters, a rythm and pace, and a counterpoint which builds a growing sense of unease in this relentless page turner. As an example of the writer's craft this book is a masterclass.
Forna's deceptively simple tale of a house restoration helping to restore those involved, helps us to discover much more about the dynamics of conflict, of how the past shapes the future and of how despite human beings' savagery towards each other, there is more that unites us than divides us.
While telling the story of his work for Laura, Duro reminisces, backwards and forwards, about his past. From the beginning there are hints about why so many families have left Gost, and these become stronger and stronger as the story proceeds. The little town was caught up in the bitter war that followed the collapse of Yugoslavia in 1991; but it is not until two thirds through the book that there is the first specific reference to that war. Even then Duro never gives the exact historical background of what happened; so it would help the reader to know the historical background to that war, which Duro never provides: he never even mentions the words "Serb" and "Croat" - instead of "Serb" he uses the word "Orthodox" (The Croats are Catholic). Gost was in the Krajina, a part of Croatia with a Serb majority which proclaimed its own republic, and was consequently besieged for a year. There was a cease-fire in 1992, but in 1995 the Croatians overran the Krajina.Read more ›
The Hired Man is narrated by its protagonist, Duro Kolak, a forty-six year old Croat, born and raised in the rural village of Gost. Forna's novel is presented as a journal kept by Duro and dated "September 2007." The recent date, however, may mislead the reader into expecting a snapshot, a near-contemporary account of events selected and described by Duro as they happened. Instead, as we read through the book we see that Forna works with time as an effectively non-linear phenomenon. Duro's journal begins and ends in the present, but his recollections of people and events from years gone by enable him to show the reader how circumstances came to be as we find them. Transitions from the palpable present to the vividly recollected past are sometimes made abruptly, with little or no forewarning. Nevertheless, readers who are attentive and willing to back-track and re-read a sentence or a paragraph will be able to keep things in their proper sequence without undue difficulty.
The most conspicuous object throughout Forna's novel is a time-worn, traditionally designed and conventionally appointed blue house, now occupied by outsiders, an Englishwoman named Laura and her teenage son and daughter. Laura hires Duro to help update and restore the comfort and charm of the rustic dwelling.Read more ›
According to the notes, Aminatta Forn has not lived in Croatia, but has lived in other troublesome parts of the world. In The Hired Man, she creates such a vivid landscape that it makes it hard to believe she wasn't there. The conflict of the early 90s in the former Yugoslavia, a civilized country that had recently hosted the Olympics, was a tourist destination of surpassing beauty, is given a human face. Duro, the narrator, the eponymous hired man who avails himself to an English family purchasing a second home in what is now Croatia, with each gutter he clears or repair he'd makes, memories of a time long suppressed in memory is unearthed, and as the house begins to come to life it raises emotions in the town with varying results. I can not in aall fairness tell more without ruining the reading experience for the next person,
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was a very good read, I couldn't put it down a story of the remnants of war in Croatia and how it affects the locals left behind. Highly recommend it.Published 6 days ago by Amazon Customer
Aminatta Forna's strength is sneaking the affects of war and dangerous politics into her stories as circumstances her characters face. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Alyssa
"The Hired Man" (Aminatta Forna) presents here a truly marvelous, deeply touching and moving story of Families, Friends, Lovers, Deeply Hated Ties, War, Deception, Murder,... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Gregory E. Foster
Painful, beautiful, unexpected. No-one surpasses Aminatta Forna in the exploration of transformation after violence.Published 8 months ago by RHS
An extraordinarily believable novel and a testament to the uncivilized nature of man.Published 9 months ago by B. Neswald
Almost halfway through The Hired Man, I came across a wonderful, succinct paragraph describing the fictional rural town of Gost as a reflection of its cemetery:
“The... Read more