Overview

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 ...
See more details below
The Hired Man

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$13.49
BN.com price
(Save 43%)$24.00 List Price

Overview

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.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
★ 09/01/2013
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 on 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
Publishers Weekly
09/02/2013
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.)
From the Publisher

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)

Kirkus Reviews
★ 2013-09-15
English tourists visiting a small Croatian village unwittingly stir up memories of the past, a legacy of horror which still holds the locals in its thrall, in a persuasive tale of silent secrets. Dark and troubling, this novel by award-winning British-based writer Forna (The Memory of Love, 2011, etc.) returns to the territory of tragedy and aftermath, this time in Europe, where the beauties of a summer cottage in Gost, a village in Croatia, are undercut by recollections of the terrible events that mar the community's conscience. Narrated by the titular hired man, Duro, who offers to help the visitors repair the blue house they have bought as a holiday home, it is a story of slow, incremental animosities that find full expression once war descends on the village. Duro, a taciturn loner, once had a happy life in Gost, complete with a family, friends and a secret romance with Anka. But the couple's betrayal forces Duro to leave and, on his return, 10 years later, Anka is married to another. Restoring the blue house, where Anka lived, reminds Duro of the somber events he has both witnessed and perpetrated, as well as evoking intense responses from other villagers. Forna's storytelling is beautifully paced, chilly and brooding in tone, and powerfully gripping. The miasma of foreboding hanging over the book is finally explained in a haunting conclusion that takes the long view. A low-key but sophisticated portrait of history--and evil--at a local level.
The Barnes & Noble Review

Aminatta Forna is one of those rare writers who can create stillness and silence on the page: the silence of early morning, for example, filling a remote valley; the stillness of a man on a hillside watching the distant approach of a stranger's car. "An early sun had burned off most of the mist," Forna writes, "...so I'd turned back to fetch my rifle even though it was not the season to hunt." Duro Kolak, the narrator of Forna's astonishing new novel, The Hired Man, holds the car in his rifle sights. Then he descends to the road and listens, unseen, outside an abandoned house. "They spoke in English...I retreated softly...."

Duro lives in Gost, a small town in Croatia. The year is 2007 and he is forty-six years old. He has survived the Yugoslav wars of the early 1990's, and his story will eventually return to that time. For now, however, Duro's attention is fixed on the Englishwoman who has bought a house that Duro knows intimately, and which he is soon hired to repair. "She'd greeted me in English," he notes of Laura, who arrives with a teenage son and daughter, "...I wondered what kind of assurance she possessed to speak to a stranger in a foreign land in her own tongue and expect to be understood. Clearly she enjoyed the luck of the innocent." Later, when Duro suffers a sudden loss, Laura avoids his eye, "...as though pain was a disease you could catch." Blithe, sentimental and crass, she is one of Forna's finest creations.

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. From the moment that Duro tracks the car with his rifle, suspicion and unease are palpable. He becomes the family's trusted protector, yet conceals what he knows of their new holiday home: who created the hidden mosaic on one wall, for example, and what lies buried in the surrounding hills. "The rain had cleared the air," he recalls of an afternoon in the hills, sixteen years earlier, "and now the heat of the sun releases the stink, along with the smell of earth and rotting leaves and something else, wet ash." Horror follows, beautifully rendered.

Duro's recollections carry the novel back to the Yugoslav wars, when the National Army shells Gost daily, killing, among others, Duro's father and sister. Later, a local militia begins its own venal round of ethnic cleansing, and his beloved disappears. By then, he too has become a killer ("I place different parts of him at the centre of my cross hair, his left eye, then his right eye.... I'm so close to him I can hear his breathing") and soon Gost, irrevocably stained by blood and betrayal, is populated by survivors "...missing an arm, or a leg, or maybe just part of their soul."

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. "It was the blue hour," Duro says of a summer evening, "Streaks of cloud across a lapis lazuli sky. The hills: three shades of purple, the deepest, a black purple, to the fore, and the palest, almost lilac, to the back with the last of the light behind them." At the coast, he contemplates the horizon "...which shimmered and shook, a tightrope between sky and earth."

A similar thread, taut and vibrating, links the drama sparked by Laura's arrival — which culminates in a drunken intrusion, one of the novel's finest scenes — to past crimes, of war and peace. "It turned out that we were the sort of people who would steal from the houses of those who had fled,"Duro observes, "which we did, without shame." Yet Duro remains, his hometown disfigured by war and now discovered by tourists, to keep watch over the innocent dead and the guilty living. "Aged ten I lost a shooting contest," he recalls, "... I was nervous. My father put his hand on my ribcage, he told me I needed to learn how to still my heart." Forna teaches her readers the same lesson.

Anna Mundow, a longtime contributor to The Irish Times and The Boston Globe, has written for The Guardian, The Washington Post, and The New York Times, among other publications.

Reviewer: Anna Mundow

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802193100
  • Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/1/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 159,440
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Aminatta Forna was born in Glasgow, raised in Sierra Leone and Britain and also spent periods of her childhood in Iran, Thailand and Zambia. She is the award-winning author of two novels, The Memory of Love and Ancestor Stones, and a memoir The Devil that Danced on the Water, which was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. She has also written short stories and essays as well as for radio and television and presented arts magazine and documentary programmes, and was recently appointed Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Aminatta Forna lives in London.
@aminattaforna
http://www.aminattaforna.com/
Aminatta Forna was born in Glasgow, raised in Sierra Leone and Britain and also spent periods of her childhood in Iran, Thailand and Zambia. She is the award-winning author of two novels, The Memory of Love and Ancestor Stones, and a memoir The Devil that Danced on the Water, which was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. She has also written short stories and essays as well as for radio and television and presented arts magazine and documentary programmes, and was recently appointed Professor of Creative Writing at Bath Spa University. Aminatta Forna lives in London.
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2014

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)