The Speckled People

Hugo Hamilton

‘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.

Reviews of The Speckled People

    • ‘A wonderful book … thoughtful and compelling, smart and original, beautifully written … Hamilton has done an awful lot more with his strange and oddly beautiful childhood than just write it down.’Nick Hornby, Sunday Times
    • ‘This story about a battle over language and defeat ‘in the language wars’ is also a victory for eloquent writing, crafty and cunning in its apparent simplicity.’Hermione Lee, Guardian
    • ‘Early as it is to risk a judgment, it is hard to believe that this year will produce many books as memorable or moving as this.’Roy Foster, The Times