The hired man

Forna, A (2013) The hired man. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 9781408817667

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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.

Item Type: Book

Like my earlier novels The Hired Man examines the effect of civil war, this time upon a small community. The novel is set in Croatia before and after the Yugoslav civil war. In this novel, my third concerned with civil war, rather than tell the bigger story of the war, I decided to pare the narrative down and to examine only the dynamics of friendship between a group of people before and at the onset of war. Though the novel is not long, the time span covers thirty years and examines the enduring nature of the effects of civil war. The challenges I set myself were a) To take one act of betrayal and then to examine its each step of its aftermath. b) To further develop the relationship between reader and narrator, to examine the idea of the reliability of any single narrative through an ‘unreliable narrator’ who may yet turn out to be reliable. c) To write for multiple audiences with different experiences of war. d) To explore the extent to which British readers identified and sympathised with the British character. e) To explore the similarities and differences in the experience of civil war in Sierra Leone and the former Yugoslavia. f) To accurately depict life in Yugoslavia, specifically to build an archive of those everyday objects, television and radio programmes, local and black market brands, now collectively referred to as Yugo-nostalgia.

The setting of the novel was a real town in Croatia where I researched through visits, newspaper accounts and trial transcripts. For details of everyday life in the former Yugoslavia I relied on personal interviews. The initial idea and some events and experiences of war were transposed from interviews with people who had experienced the war in Sierra Leone.

Divisions: School of Writing, Publishing and the Humanities
Date Deposited: 12 Jun 2013 12:57
Last Modified: 11 Oct 2022 17:24
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