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

    • Praise for ‘The Sailor in the Wardrobe’:
    • ‘Hamilton patterns the institutions and structures of family life, with his father’s rules, curfews, punishments and terrifying rages, against the larger tyrannies of history. Simultaneously, he handles the conflicts, threats and aggressions of life outside home, much of which has to be kept secret, words of piercing clarity and immediacy convey his sense of guilt, in a world where terrible events continually hang above his head like the clouds drifting in from the sea. Hamilton’s Irish-German-English voice remains unique. The question is where he will project it next.’ The Times
    • ‘An interestingly astute and poetic book.’ Guardian
    • ‘It must establish Hugo as a major writer of the very first order.’ Sunday Tribune
    • ‘Hamilton can interpret his very personal and unique family memories in a way that strikes a universal chord.’ Irish Independent