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The Hired Man

by Aminatta Forna

Set in present day Croatia and the former Yugoslavia at the time of the Yugoslav Wars, the story flits effortlessly between these eras. This novel really brought home to me how events which happen in small communities during wartime (both the happy and the haunting) can remain with a person for the rest of their life. Each chapter gave a taster of something you knew was going to be revealed at the end of the novel. And reveal itself it did.

Extract

Maybe that person is you. Or at least, I have to tell this story and I must tell it to somebody, so it may as well be you, come to sort through my belongings. You are young and you don't know or don't remember the things that happened. Nobody seems to remember, even those who are old enough, those who were there. But I remember it all, every grinding minute, hour and day, how things unfolded.
Our story doesn't show us in a very good light. I wish it were different, but there it is. This story is not the story of the whole of the past, just the story of a single summer.
As I said, somebody must stand guard over the past.
In Gost, that somebody is me.
The only person I can trust.

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