The Hired Man
Gost is surrounded by mountains and fields of wild flowers. The summer sun burns. The Croatian 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 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.
NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS
Aminatta Forna is an accomplished author and this is a deeply atmospheric book, set in a small town in Croatia. She presents a masterful blend of past and present as the previously solitary protagonist, Duro Kolak, slowly gets to know the English family that has just moved into the “blue house”, a place he is keenly familiar with. The Hired Man is a beautiful and resonant novel that explores the lingering consequences of an ethnic war between neighbours.
In The Hired Man, Aminatta Forna skilfully uses first-person narration to give seeming omniscience into the title character’s perspective. As the narrator parcels out his story, through, we realize he has shared details only according to the listener’s capacity to withstand them, carefully preparing us for the final, wrenching revelations of atrocity and betrayal.