cover image The Hired Man

The Hired Man

Aminatta Forna. Atlantic Monthly, $24 (304p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2191-2

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%E2%80%99 perspectives on Gost%E2%80%94Laura thinks it%E2%80%99s %E2%80%9Cone of the most beautiful places%E2%80%9D she%E2%80%99s ever been, while Duro sees past the tranquil surface to the region%E2%80%99s 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.)