'This is the most gripping book I've read in ages ...It is beautifully written, fascinating, disturbing and often very funny.' Roddy Doyle The childhood world of Hugo Hamilton, born and brought up in Dublin, is a confused place. His father, a sometimes brutal Irish nationalist, demands his children speak Gaelic, while his mother, a softly spoken German emigrant who has been marked by the Nazi past, speaks to them in German. He himself wants to speak English. English is, after all, what the other children in Dublin speak. English is what they use when they hunt him down in the streets and dub him Eichmann, as they bring him to trial and sentence him to death at a mock seaside court. Out of this fear and guilt and often comical cultural entanglements, he tries to understand the differences between Irish history and German history and turn the twisted logic of what he is told into truth. It is a journey that ends in liberation, but not before he uncovers the long-buried secrets that lie at the bottom of his parents wardrobe. In one of the finest books to have emerged from Ireland in many years, the acclaimed novelist Hugo Hamilton has finally written his own story - a deeply moving memoir about a whole family's homesickness for a country they can call their own.
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The son of a German mother and an Irish father, Hugo Hamilton grew up in Dublin in the 1950s wearing "lederhosen and Aran sweaters, smelling of rough wool and new leather, Irish on top and German below." His family spoke both German and Irish, but English was strictly forbidden--even uttering a few words of the cursed language was enough to earn an often brutal punishment from their father, a staunch Irish nationalist. His father maintained that "your home is your language" and insisted that they be a model Irish family and an example for others to follow. Hamilton and his siblings were not even permitted to play with children who did not speak Irish exclusively--a particular problem in a country where English is the primary language. Ironically, he was taunted mercilessly for his German heritage and children jeered him with cries of "Eichmann" and "Heil Hitler." He was even put on "trial" once by a gang of kids who sentenced him death by snowball firing squad. This confusing quest to discover his identity and to gain an understanding of his family history is at the heart of The Speckled People, a profoundly touching and beautifully written memoir.
His parents' secrecy concerning their own pasts only exacerbated his frustration, forcing Hamilton to cling to fragments of information gleaned secretly from hidden photographs and buried family relics. Written from the perspective of a child, Hamilton captures his feelings of confusion, guilt, and fear convincingly and with much humor and insight. Full of poetic passages, sharp observations, and the kind of subtle epiphanies that are best expressed by a child, the book is a joy to read. "When you're small you know nothing and when you grow up there are things you don't want to know," he writes. This memoir is Hamilton's attempt to reconcile the two. --Shawn CarkonenAbout the Author:
Hugo Hamilton was born and grew up in Dublin. He is the author of five highly acclaimed novels: 'Surrogate City', 'The Last Shot' and 'The Love Test' (Faber); 'Headbanger' and 'Sad Bastard' (Secker); and one collection of short stories. He has worked as a writer-in-residence at many leading universities, including most recently at Trinity College, Dublin. He has just returned to Ireland from a DAAD scholarship in Berlin.
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Book Description Fourth Estate , 2003. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 7148062