This is a blog about my reads as well as everything related to them.
My taste is for good quality literature - old and new. Some of it I review here or on my main book blog Edith's Miscellany.
Abridged version of my review posted on Edith’s Miscellany on 06 September 2013
The scene of The Hired Man is the fictitious town of Gost, a quiet place on the outskirts of the town somewhere in the mountains of Croatia. It’s Summer 2007. When the first-person-narrator Duro Kolak returns from hunting in the forests with his two dogs, he is surprised to meet the Englishwoman Laura and her teenage children Matthew and Grace in ‘the blue house’ as he calls it. His cottage is next door, but he had no idea that the deserted and decayed house had been sold. Duro offers to help with all the necessary repairs. For him, a 46-year-old unmarried man who makes his living with odd jobs, it’s a welcome opportunity to earn money although it turns out later that he also has other reasons to work up the place which he has known since his childhood. He takes care that Laura discovers the mosaic on the façade – the work of his vanished friend Anka – which had been plastered and whitewashed years before. And just as the ‘red-bodied bird, golden plumed, dragging a golden tail’ emerges little by little from its cover, so does the past of Duro, of the inhabitants of the blue house and of Croatia which annoys many people in town, most of all Duro’s now despised boyhood friends Krešimir and Fabjan who are the last remaining of ‘the old crowd’.
In a simple language Aminatta Forna evokes the peaceful atmosphere of a typical little town tucked away in the Croatian mountains which is ever more often replaced by the powerful memories of The Hired Man who saw and had his share in the horrors of war. In Duro’s mind the events of the past are still more present than everything that happens during the weeks working on the house. With great skill Aminatta Forna manages to constantly heighten suspense until the story of the deserted blue house and the fate of all those people who disappeared from Gost over night and without trace is finally revealed.
The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna is an excellent novel to remind us of the dark sides of the human soul and their repercussions in world history.