Disguise

Hugo Hamilton

1945. At the end of the second world war in Berlin, a young mother loses her two-year-old boy in the bombings. She flees to the south, where her father finds a young foundling of the same age among the refugee trains to replace the boy. He makes her promise never to tell anyone, including her husband – still fighting on the Russian front – that the boy is not her own. Nobody will know the difference. 2008. Gregor Liedmann is a Jewish man now in his sixties. He’s an old rocker who ran away from home, a trumpet player, a revolutionary stone-thrower left over from the 1968 generation. On a single day spent gathering fruit in an orchard outside Berlin with family and friends, Gregor looks back over his life, sifting through fact and memory in order to establish the truth. What happened on that journey south in the final days of the war? Why did his grandfather Emil disappear, and why did the Gestapo torture uncle Max? Here, in the calmness of the orchard, along with his ex-wife Mara and son Daniel, Gregor tries to unlock the secret of his past. In his first novel since the best-selling memoir ‘The Speckled People’, Hugo Hamilton has created a truly compelling story of lost identity, and a remarkable reflection on the ambiguity of belonging.

Reviews of Disguise

    • Sebastian Barry, Guardian (Book of the Year)
    • ‘An eloquent and haunting book about identity and the construction of a self under duress….Though much of the historic and personal material here is brutal , the tone of the book is oddly consoling. He does tenderness very well.’ Hermione Lee, the Guardian
    • ‘Subtle…a narrative that moves elegantly between past and present.’ Sunday Times
    • ’This novel is about identity, both personal and national, the vicissitudes of memory, the impossibility and necessity of love. The opening is thrilling but Hamilton knows the real story is in the repercussions. And the final chapter is almost unbearably moving, wonderfully understated, damn near perfect.’ Rachel Sieffert, Financial Times
    • ‘Hugo Hamilton has fashioned a monumental theme. He brings the reader through a whole series of microcosms, dancing flash pictures of different societies, different times. They all contribute to an overwhelming sense of unease, an unsettling shrine to emotional fear. The book and its skill are the reality.’ Irish Sunday Independent
    • ‘Hamilton doesn’t discuss his writing with his family as for him it’s very much a “personal endeavour”. “Disguise”, however, is not one to keep to yourself; it is a book that raises questions about the personal and collective identity from a man in the know.’ Image Magazine