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on 26 January 2014
I was surprised to find that the latest of Aminatta's books was set in Croatia, as her previous works, like the author herself, were African themed, and some say, partly autobioghraphical in nature. This then is an interesting departure from her more usual style, and yet it was also the same in that it was set in the aftermath of war, this time in the Balkans.

The narrator is builder Duro, who lives alone on the outskirts of Gost with his two hunting dogs. Gost seems an appropriate name in many ways for this fictional town, as it is one letter removed from ghost, the state in which many of the residents appear to reside. Duro first encounters Laura through the sight of his gun, while out hunting in the woods. When Duro learns that Laura has recently moved into the so-called blue house, and plans to renovate it, he volunteers his services, being in need of the work. As the story unfolds, we learn that Duro is already intimately acquainted with both the house and its history, as the former home of his childhood sweetheart and sister of his once best friend.

There are dark under currents beneath the surface as we learn the secrets of both Duro's and towns past with its role in the ethnic cleansing that took part of the Balkans war. The war has understandably left scars, both physical and psychological upon the inhabitants, not least of all Duro himself. The book cleverlly addresses many of these issues and for many will I am sure leave unanswered and unresolved questions.

The relationships between the various characters are brilliantly betrayed - Laura and her sunny, trusting personality, Kresimir's brutality and Fabjan's hypocrisy. As I said, this book covers many themes. Most of all though, it is a book about survival and the effects of war on a community, a community where the various occupants took sides against each other and are now forced to live with the consequences of that betrayal and guilt.
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on 22 August 2015
Having read this wonderful book while holidaying in Croatia, I would strongly recommend it, particularly to anyone who feels, like me, a lack of understanding about the Yugoslav wars, despite the backdrop of news in the 90s. Seeking to rectify this, I talked to a local girl while exploring the Croatian islands and, in outlining her youthful understanding of the situation, pointed out a magnificent building on the mainland that belonged to one of the generals in the Croatian Army and told me that the local community had bought this house for him after he was released from imprisonment in The Hague. He was a national hero...
The Hired Men helped me to understand a little of why that would be, and made me want to find out more. It was beautifully written and, unlike some of the reviewers, I found the slow build to the climax quite compelling.
I'm looking forward to reading more of Aminatti Forma's work.
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on 27 April 2014
This was an interesting read. My main disappointment with the book was that it lacked any explanation of the causes Behring the War in Croatia.
A.P. Reading
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on 8 August 2016
Excellent gently enfolding story which immerses the reader
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on 25 February 2016
The setting was different and the underlying conflict built up throughout.
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on 2 September 2015
Thoughtful and well written tale about people's memory of a recent war and the struggle they have to absorb what has happened and what they did. A very interesting and sensitive book.
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on 19 March 2015
Its a pity we had to wait until the last quarter of the book until we got some information about what had happened to him in the War in Croatia. Would have loved more of that from the begining of the book.
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on 2 February 2015
Aminatta weaves a compelling tale of love, longing and sorrow with such poetic prose. A very captivating story and a great read.
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on 5 March 2015
Everything about this book was brilliant. It was my best book of the year.
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on 9 October 2016
Ace seller
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