The Speckled People: A Memoir of a Half-Irish Childhood

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Harper Collins, Apr 27, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 304 pages

"We wear Aran Sweaters and Lederhosen. We are forbidden from speaking English. We are trapped in a language war. We are the Speckled People." In one of the most original memoirs to emerge in years, Hugo Hamilton tells the haunting story of his German-Irish childhood in 1950s Dublin. His Gaelic-speaking, Irish nationalist father rules the home with tyranny, while his German-speaking mother rescues her children with cakes and stories of her own struggle against Nazi Germany. Out on the streets of Dublin is another country, where they are taunted as Nazis and subjected to a mock Nuremberg trial. Through the eyes of a child, this rare and shockingly honest book gradually makes sense of family, language, and identity, unlocking at last the secrets that his parents kept in the wardrobe.

 

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User Review  - gypsysmom - LibraryThing

Hugo Hamilton grew up speaking three languages. His mother was German so with her Hugo spoke German. His father was an Irish nationalist so he insisted that the children speak no English in the house ... Read full review

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User Review  - cfbookgroup - LibraryThing

Deeply poignant. We talked for a long time about the characters - the mother, the father, the boy. Thoughts about nationalism...and divided identities... Thoughts about Irish literature and about ... Read full review

Contents

Section 1
1
Section 2
7
Section 3
16
Section 4
24
Section 5
33
Section 6
43
Section 7
52
Section 8
60
Section 17
145
Section 18
154
Section 19
164
Section 20
176
Section 21
187
Section 22
196
Section 23
208
Section 24
221

Section 9
69
Section 10
78
Section 11
87
Section 12
97
Section 13
106
Section 14
116
Section 15
126
Section 16
137
Section 25
230
Section 26
242
Section 27
257
Section 28
274
Section 29
284
Section 30
296
Copyright

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Popular passages

Page 2 - You don't know where you are, or who you are, or what questions to ask.
Page 108 - What's that in English?' they ask. But you can't betray your family name. My father says we can't give the English version, Hamilton, no matter how often they ask for it. We can't even admit that an English version exists.
Page 3 - We're living in the luckiest place in the world with no war and nothing to be afraid of, with the sea close by and the smell of salt in the air.
Page 3 - But you don't want to be special. Out there in Ireland you want to be the same as everyone else, not an Irish speaker, not a German or a Kraut or a Nazi.

About the author (2004)

In his first novel since the bestselling memoir The Speckled People, Hugo Hamilton has created a truly compelling story of lost identity and a remarkable reflection on the ambiguity of belonging.

Bibliographic information