Hugo Hamilton

© courtesy of Hugo Hamilton

(28/01/1953)

Hugo Hamilton was born in Co. Dublin where he still lives. His father, an ardent Irish nationalist, forbade his children to speak English at home, while his German mother, scarred by her own traumatic experience of the Second World War, preached the need for reconciliation. Hamilton left Ireland for Germany in the 1970s and only returned to Dublin in the mid 1980s. His first three novels, Surrogate City (1990), The Last Shot (1991), winner of the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, and The Love Test (1996), are set in Germany and bear testimony to a changing society still haunted by the past. His latest novel, Disguise (2008), returns to this familiar theme. Hamilton's memoirs, The Speckled People (2003) and The Sailor in the Wardrobe (2006), in turn, are informed by an acute awareness of the historical, cultural and linguistic dimensions of his Irish-German inheritance and to many critics offered a long overdue revision of the terms 'identity', 'cultural diversity', and 'Irish'. Both memoirs have become bestsellers and have fascinated readers all over the world. The Speckled People won the prestigious Prix Femina étranger in France, as well as the Berto prize in Italy and has been translated into 15 languages to date. Hamilton has also published a collection of short stories, Dublin Where the Palm Trees Grow (1996), and two detective novels set in Dublin, Headbanger (1997) and Sad Bastard (1998). His latest novel, Every Single Minute, was published in 2014 by Harper Collins. Hugo Hamilton is a member of Aosdána, the affiliation of creative artists in Ireland. For more information, please visit www.hugohamilton.net.

Books
© Fazi Editore, 2009

Disguise

Fourth Estate, 2008

After many listless years spent in search for (or on the run from) his identity, musician Gregor Liedmann, now in his sixties, joins the ranks of his family and friends in the apple harvest on a farm in Eastern Germany. Laden with portentous symbols, the farm itself has witnessed occupation and destruction during the Second World War, the ensuing dispossession of the owners by the GDR, and the return of the rightful heirs and their children after reunification. It now serves as the suitable setting for the unravelling of Gregor's past and his reconciliation with his own son, who is about to leave for Sudan to work with victims of war and displacement. Gradually, the narrative unveils the protagonist's elaborate disguise, that is the assumed identity of a Jewish survivor, adopted to replace a dead German boy of the same age at the end of the Second Word War.

Hamilton's latest novel is a tour de force through Germany's changing self-image over the past six decades - it begins in the rubble of a destroyed Berlin and takes to the road with along with the hundreds of thousands of refugees at the end of the Second World War; it depicts the repression of the traumatic war experience and shame in post-war German society and shows the excesses of the of the counter-reaction initiated by the angry generation of '68ers; finally, it follows this generation's " long march through society's institutions" and arrives with them back in Berlin, in autumn 2006, where the air is still tingling with the euphoria and new-found patriotism induced by the FIFA World Cup.

Translated into

Dutch, French, Italian

Rights Contact
Peter Straus,
Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd.
20 Powis Mews
London W11 1JN
United Kingdom

T: 0044 20 7221 3717
F: 0044 20 7229 9084
E: peters@rcwlitagency.co.uk
W: www.rcwlitagency.co.uk
© Éditions Phébus, 2015

Every Single Minute

Harper Collins, 2014

Every Single Minute portrays an Irish writer dying of cancer. Visiting Berlin for the first and last time, she is remembered, in prose of arresting directness, by the book’s narrator. Touring the city, Úna strives still to understand the tragic death of her younger brother. At last, at a performance of the opera ‘Don Carlo’, she realises the true cost of letting memory dictate the course of her life. This novel is the story of a candid friendship, full of affection and humour, and of reconciliation, hard-won at long last.

Translated into

French

Rights Contact
Rogers, Coleridge & White Literary Agency,
20 Powis Mews
London W11 1JN
United Kingdom

T: 0044 20 7221 3717
F: 0044 20 7229 9084
E: stephen@rcwlitagency.co.uk
W: www.rcwlitagency.co.uk
© Steidl

Headbanger

Secker & Warburg, 1996

Pat Coyne is a Dublin policeman who is passionately devoted to sorting out the world and its problems. His principal mission is to deal with crime, Ireland's biggest growth industry. Though only a cop on the beat, he decides to take on the notorious gang leader, Drummer Cunningham. When a murder investigation leaves detectives clueless, he enters into a personal feud with the underworld, resulting in disasterous consequences for himself and his family.

Translated into

Italian, German

Rights Contact
A. M. Heath & Company Ltd,
6 Warwick Court
Holborn
London WC1R 5DJ
United Kingdom

T: 0044 207 242 2811
F: 0044 207 242 2711
W: www.amheath.com
© J.M. Meulenhoff

The Last Shot

Faber & Faber, 1991

In his second novel, The Last Shot, Hamilton elaborates on the theme of how past and present are inextricably intertwined by having the present day narrator resurrect with scrupulous care the forgotten history of his mother Bertha and of 'the last shot' fired during the Second World War. Both the events in the Bertha's life in May of 1945 and her sons travels through a divided Germany between 1985 and 1990 gather significance by being told side by side, with the narrator distributing his attention to the perpetuation of both narrative strands equally. By showing how seemingly disconnected events - the end of the Second World War and the arrival of 'freedom trains' in West Germany together with the fall of the Berlin Wall - are part of a larger pattern, the narrator's message seems to be that only by seriously working upon the past the individual will form a stronger sense of self and be able to progress.

Translated into

Dutch

Rights Contact
Peter Straus,
Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd.
20 Powis Mews
London W11 1JN
United Kingdom

T: 0044 20 7221 3717
F: 0044 20 7229 9084
E: peters@rcwlitagency.co.uk
W: www.rcwlitagency.co.uk
© Editura Fundatiei Culturale Romane

The Love Test

Faber & Faber, 1995

Hamilton's 1995 novel is the last in the loose German trilogy which includes Surrogate City and The Last Shot. Set in Berlin in the early 1990s, it tells a haunting story of East meeting West: On the East side of town is Christa Süsskind, a captive of her GDR past which took her freedom, her lover Ralf Krone and their new-born child. On the West side of the city live Mathias and Claudia Hauser, two captives of the present 'mindlessness of the Euro-fun', trapped in a marriage that no longer conforms to the fun principle. Their paths cross when Christa seeks Mathias help as a journalist to trace her lost lover and child. As the narratives of the past and present unfold, Hamilton shows the different ways in which 'the love test' is taken by each of the four figures involved, and probes if 'the intensity of human love' can still set things right or if, as Alexander Kluge's epigraph for the novel suggests, 'at a certain level of misfortune, love can no longer be generated.'

Translated into

Romanian

Rights Contact
Peter Straus,
Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd.
20 Powis Mews
London W11 1JN
United Kingdom

T: 0044 20 7221 3717
F: 0044 20 7229 9084
E: peters@rcwlitagency.co.uk
W: www.rcwlitagency.co.uk
© J.M. Meulenhoff

The Sailor in the Wardrobe

Fourth Estate, 2006

In this sequel to The Speckled People, Hamilton continues his search for a cure for his 'hurt mind' throughout his adolescence and early adulthood. Using his art to enact a reconciliation with his Irish-German origins, Hamilton eventually accepts his mixed background and envisions a version of his past which re-builds the once burned bridges to his father.

Translated into

Italian, Dutch, Bulgarian

Rights Contact
Peter Straus,
Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd.
20 Powis Mews
London W11 1JN
United Kingdom

T: 0044 20 7221 3717
F: 0044 20 7229 9084
E: peters@rcwlitagency.co.uk
W: www.rcwlitagency.co.uk
© Morava Publishing House, 2012

The Speckled People

Fourth Estate, 2003

Having admittedly suffered from suppressing his childhood experience for 45 years, it was in embracing his divided cultural inheritance, in remembering and in assuming responsibility for the boy he once was that Hamilton finally came full circle with this memoir to claim a place in an Ireland grown culturally diverse enough for him to no longer hesitate to call home - despite his speckled-ness.

Translated into

Catalan, French, Dutch, Italian, Greek, Serbian, Norwegian, Bulgarian, Danish, Ukrainian, Albanian

Rights Contact
Peter Straus,
Rogers, Coleridge & White Ltd.
20 Powis Mews
London W11 1JN
United Kingdom

T: 0044 20 7221 3717
F: 0044 20 7229 9084
E: peters@rcwlitagency.co.uk
W: www.rcwlitagency.co.uk