Aminatta Forna The Hired Man

ISBN 13: 9781408843161

The Hired Man

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9781408843161: The Hired Man

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.

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About the Author:

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.

Review:

Praise for The Hired Man

Forna is a born storyteller. . . . Not since Remains of the Day has an author so skillfully revealed the way history’s layers are often invisible to all but its participants, who do what they must to survive. . . . Gorgeous.” John Freeman, The Boston Globe

Absorbing and disturbing . . . Forna’s unwavering gaze compels a close look at the complexities of our shared histories. . . . The questions she asks What is the price of memory? How do we bear the burden of forgetting? demand attention.” Ellah Allfrey, NPR

A masterful novel by a gifted writer lays bare the secrets and scars of past conflicts . . . [Forna] reveals her story at a pace of measured suspense until it reads like a slow-burn thriller. Her prose quietly grips us by the throat and then tightens its hold. It is storytelling at its most taut.” Arifa Akbar, The Independent (UK)

If . . . The Memory of Love, set in Africa, confirmed Forna’s flair for writing about war and its aftermath, The Hired Man seals her reputation as arguably the best writer of fiction in this field. . . . This is a novel to be passed on judiciously, like a special gift.” Jackie Annesley, London Evening Standard

[Forna] has a terrific ability to evoke the poisonous atmosphere of culpability and denial from which civil conflicts emerge. . . . [and] the atmosphere of festering tension in which perpetrators of the most grotesque acts of violence continue to live side by side. . . . The Hired Man triumphantly proves that the story need not always remain the same.” Alfred Hickling, The Guardian (UK)

Forna . . . has created a convincing narrator in Duro. . . . His voice is one of the novel’s key pleasures unpretentious and perceptive, tolerant, brooding and sometimes surprising. . . . Every sentence shimmers with possible depths. . . . The plotting is subtle, the suspense maddening, the set-ups undetectable, the character work masterful and Forna’s surprises go off like time bombs. This is literature with a punch.” Nick DiMartino, Shelf Awareness

A satisfying novel of truth and forgetting . . . quietly gripping . . . Duro’s matter-of-fact narration adds to the unease, defying the reader to separate benign local color from hints about unspeakable acts..” Adrian Turpin, Financial Times (UK)

A persuasive tale of silent secrets. Dark and troubling . . . it is a story of slow, incremental animosities that find full expression once war descends on the village. . . . Forna’s storytelling is beautifully paced, chilly and brooding in tone, and powerfully gripping. . . . A low-key but sophisticated portrait of history and evil at a local level.” Kirkus (starred review)

For fans of Monica Ali and Kiran Desai’s writing . . . Perhaps [Forna’s] finest literary effort yet. . . . Forna's light and, at times, darkly comedic touch buoys even the heaviest of subjects.” Harper’s Bazaar (UK)

Beautifully precise style . . . An ingenious examination of the kind of ghosts that those with no experience of civil war are unable to see.” Frances Perraudin, The Observer (UK)

Moving . . . Forna does an exquisite job of contrasting her leads’ perspectives. . . . This is a powerful exploration of the impact that violence has on those who suffer it and those who inflict it.” Publishers Weekly (Pick of the Week)

A writer of extreme gifts. . . . Forna is brilliant.” Hannah McGill, The Scotsman (UK)

Absorbing . . . [Forna] subtly illuminat[es] the prolonged aftereffects of all wars. . . . Forna’s decision to write from the perspective of a Croatian man is risky, but Duro is exceedingly convincing: melancholy, not maudlin; stoical, not hard-boiled.” Kenneth Champeon, Book Page

Forna writes sensitively about the power of a history that is both terrible and banal. . . . Duro’s voice carries the narrative with a solidity and complexity that is very satisfying.” Helen Dunmore, The Times (London)

Set in Croatia, this mesmerizing novel examines the aftermath of war and genocide. . . . What’s most interesting about this story is its portrayal of how those who survive atrocities must learn how to continue to live together. . . . Highly recommended and likely to find appreciation among fans of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, another tale of friendship and betrayal.” Evelyn Beck, Library Journal (starred review)

Aminatta Forna is one of those rare writers who can create stillness and silence on the page. . . . Tentatively, fragment by fragment, the present is peeled back to expose the wounds of the past. Each revelation, however great, seems intimate on this small stage and Forna modulates the growing suspense with exquisite skill. . . . Forna wisely resists explaining the war in this region once known as the Serbian Republic of Krajina. Rather she conveys its ghastly texture and rhythms, how it feels. Yet this tightly compressed novel, crisscrossed by scars, is above all beautiful, reminiscent in its mesmerizing clarity of William Trevor’s fiction or Per Petterson’s.” Anna Mundow, Barnes&Noble Review

Powerful . . . The first few chapters are picturesque, even comic at times. . . . But the real story is ticking beneath. . . . The pacing of this novel is stunning. After an edgy beginning, it blooms into joyousness halfway through when the mosaic is restored, and then the cruelty begins to flow. . . . But in the end, The Hired Man is not a simple story of revenge. It is subtler and harder; it is about the power of not exacting revenge.” Joy Lo Dico, The Independent (UK)

Set in and around a small Croatian village, Forna’s accomplished and intricate novel explores the effects of war and the endurance and significance of memory. . . . 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.” Leah Strauss, Booklist

Fans of The English Patient will love this haunting, memorable book.” Red (UK)

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