BookBrowse has a new look! Learn more about the update here.

Book summary and reviews of The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna

The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna

The Hired Man

by Aminatta Forna

  • Critics' Consensus:
  • Published:
  • Oct 2013
    304 pages
  • Rate this book

  • Buy This Book

About this book

Book Summary

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.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. A low-key but sophisticated portrait of history—and evil—at a local level." - Kirkus

"This is a powerful exploration of the impact that violence has on those who suffer it and those who inflict it." - Publishers Weekly

"A masterful novel by a gifted writer lays bare the secrets and scars of past conflicts...[Forna's] prose quietly grips us by the throat and then tightens its hold. It is storytelling at its most taut." - The Independent (UK)

"If her second novel 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." - London Evening Standard (UK)

"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." - The Times (UK)

"[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." - The Guardian (UK)

"Aminatta Forna ... crafts a story that initially seduces with intense and vivid physical detail, low, sour wit and a suggestion of romance, before twisting - without the reader even fully registering - it into a knotty, powerfully ambiguous allegory for collective trauma and negotiation with historical pain. - The Scotsman (UK)

"The way ... conflict can force apart a community like water creeping through brickwork is something [Forna] understands well." - Claire Allfree, Metro (London)

This information about The Hired Man was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Author Information

Aminatta Forna Author Biography

Photo: © Simon Westcott

Aminatta Forna was born in Glasgow and raised in Sierra Leone and the United Kingdom. She is the author of The Memory of Love, Ancestor Stones, The Devil that Danced on the Water, and The Memory of Love, which has been selected as one of the Best Books of the Year by the Sunday Telegraph, Financial Times and Times.

In 2002 Forna helped to build a primary school in her family's village of Rogbonko. The building of the school was the first step in what would become known as the Rogbonko Project: a community effort to create an escape route from poverty through multiple initiatives in the spheres of education, agriculture, infrastructure and health.

Forna is a trustee of the Royal Literary Fund and sits on the advisory committee of the Caine Prize for African Writing. She has also ...

... Full Biography
Link to Aminatta Forna's Website

Name Pronunciation
Aminatta Forna: A-mi-na-tta FOR-na

Other books by Aminatta Forna at BookBrowse

5 more...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

More Recommendations

Readers Also Browsed . . .

more literary fiction...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $45 for 12 months or $15 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Become a Member

Join BookBrowse today to start
discovering exceptional books!
Find Out More

Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Bury Your Gays
    Bury Your Gays
    by Chuck Tingle
    Chuck Tingle, for those who don't know, is the pseudonym of an eccentric writer best known for his ...
  • Book Jacket: Blue Ruin
    Blue Ruin
    by Hari Kunzru
    Like Red Pill and White Tears, the first two novels in Hari Kunzru's loosely connected Three-...
  • Book Jacket: A Gentleman and a Thief
    A Gentleman and a Thief
    by Dean Jobb
    In the Roaring Twenties—an era known for its flash and glamour as well as its gangsters and ...
  • Book Jacket: Early Sobrieties
    Early Sobrieties
    by Michael Deagler
    Dennis Monk is sober now, and he expects some applause. Or at least some recognition that he's ...

BookBrowse Book Club

Book Jacket
Lady Tan's Circle of Women
by Lisa See
Lisa See's latest historical novel, inspired by the true story of a woman physician from 15th-century China.
Book Jacket
The 1619 Project
by Nikole Hannah-Jones
An impactful expansion of groundbreaking journalism, The 1619 Project offers a revealing vision of America's past and present.

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Very Long, Very Strange Life of Isaac Dahl
    by Bart Yates

    A saga spanning 12 significant days across nearly 100 years in the life of a single man.

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

L T C O of the B

and be entered to win..

Win This Book
Win Smothermoss

Smothermoss by Alisa Alering

A haunting, imaginative, and twisting tale of two sisters and the menacing, unexplained forces that threaten them and their rural mountain community.

Enter

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.