The Hired Man

Atlantic Monthly. Oct. 2013. 304p. ISBN 9780802121912. $24; ebk. ISBN 9780802193100. F
OrangeReviewStarSet 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.]
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