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Il cane che abbaiava alle onde

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  842 Ratings  ·  96 Reviews
The son of a German mother and an Irish father, Hugo Hamilton grew up in Dublin in the 1950s wearing "lederhosen and Aran sweaters, smelling of rough wool and new leather, Irish on top and German below." His family spoke both German and Irish, but English was strictly forbidden--even uttering a few words of the cursed language was enough to earn an often brutal punishment ...more
Paperback, 261 pages
Published 2004 by Fazi (first published September 5th 2000)
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My daughter recommended this book to me and it is a memoir of Hugo Hamilton's life growing up in Ireland. His father was fanatically "Irish" and his mother was "German". Hence the title. The father would only allow Irish (Gaelic) spoken in the home and was rabidly anti-British. The mother spoke German. This memoir of two boys growing up in Ireland makes for riveting reading. It gives one a very different view of Ireland than you would get reading Frank McCourt or Roddy Doyle. Highly recommended.
Friederike Knabe
I found The Speckled People after encountering a fascinating article by Hugo Hamilton on the "Loneliness of Being German". Similar to the article, the book immediately struck a chord with me. Those living within and without their own language will find a special connection to this book. Language as the identification of "home" and "country" and "language wars" are explored here in a rather exceptional way - through the voice and outlook of a growing child. Like a patchwork quilt the vignette cha ...more
Jan 05, 2009 Faith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2006, biography
The Speckled People - one of the Irish autobiographies I found in Ireland this summer. Hugo Hamilton is an acclaimed Irish novelist, and in this book he brings alive his German-Irish childhood in the 50s. It is not easy to belong to the speckled people, the people who are different, the people who are neither Irish nor German, but just speckled. Especially after the Second World War it's not easy to be speckled German.

The book is very touching and real (human). Hamilton manages the child's pers
Nov 07, 2012 Aleesha rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Awful, Awful and just beyond awful. Maybe I am just not a very intellectual person like the rest of the people reading this book . I normally finish a good book within 2 hours but with this one I spent 2 weeks because I found it physically impossible to pick it up and torture my own brain.

This book sounds more like the rambling of a 5 year old child. Have no idea what the publisher and editor were thinking.
Some problems:
1. The author has no consistency, no clear theme established in any chapter
Persephone Abbott
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 09, 2017 Gwenmac rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book, does not read like a memoir, more like a fictional novel. The challenges that a multi-cultural family faces is always poignant, but especially so shortly after a World War. Hugo Hamilton had me drawn in from the very first lines, and never did I waver in my desire to keep reading.
Nov 13, 2016 Aubrey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The Speckled People" is about the half-Irish, half-German Hamilton family and takes place during World War II, when Nazism is peaking. They move from Germany to Ireland, and have to tolerate being called Krauts and Nazi's due to the German part of them. This book is about the struggle to hold on to culture versus the want to live with no fear, which gets a little bit complicated when Jack Hamilton starts the Anti-British Nationalist Cause, encouraging the people to be proud of where they're fro ...more
Feb 02, 2013 Ryan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The language is soft and gentle, and the descriptions are from a child's perspective. The combination makes the tyranny of the father even worse, the passivity of the mother more distressing, the fun and cakes slightly ironic.

The story of the father is interesting. He was nationalistic to the extreme and only allowed Irish - or German, since his wife was German and it was not English - to be spoken, but his children lived in a world where English was spoken by so many. I respected his belief th
Jan 22, 2008 minnie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I really liked this memoir of a boy growing up in fifties Ireland with a german mother and Irish father.As in a lot of memoirs I read, the father was stubborn and misguided and the mother an understanding saint of a woman. The writer never faltered from telling his story from a childs point of view. The fathers belief in a future Ireland where only the Irish language was spoken, forbade his children to speak English or even listen to it spoken.The children were ostracised from their peers and ma ...more
Catherine Davison
Aug 27, 2016 Catherine Davison rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book comes with a recommendation by Roddy Doyle, I'm wondering whether he actually read it before putting his name to his review. Told in the voice of a nine year old boy it is incredibly irritating. The faux 'seen through the eyes of a child' take on very real and disturbing world events is relentless, the tone doesn't change. I found myself cringing, it reminded me of an Australian book which also got accolades Jasper Jones, both rely on the voice of a young boy and both just feel incredi ...more
J.S. Dunn
Aug 27, 2014 J.S. Dunn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ireland
Touching story of what would today be termed a dysfunctional family, told by an unforgettable child narrator. How true that every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. (Tolstoy)

The pain is somewhat mitigated by the end, and without sentimentality or an improbable happy outcome ( those are left to fictional accounts).
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 25, 2009 Carricklass rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved this book - could identify with a lot of his childhood, though I wasn't beaten for speaking English - for plenty of other things - like being caught knitting on a Sunday! Informative book written in a deceptively easy style - plenty of fun masking the pain.
Simon Dewhurst
Dec 17, 2016 Simon Dewhurst rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A warm and mostly funny account of the author's childhood concentrating mainly on his two idiosyncratic parents, who seem to have nothing in common whatsoever. I particularly like the way he speaks with the voice of a child in the main and like all children accepts everything that life throws at him. Well worth the read!
Ray Hubley
Oct 21, 2016 Ray Hubley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From the rich tradition of Irish coming-of-age (Roddy Doyle, Frank McCourt, et al)
but lit from within by a fascination with language itself. Humane, provocative and
ringing with truth -- extraordinary.
Oct 20, 2012 Marleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I rated this book 3.5 stars.

In this memoir Hugo Hamilton tells the story of his youth. Born in Dublin in the 1950’s with a German mother and an Irish, nationalistic, father his upbringing was anything but conventional. Because of his father’s strong and uncompromising views on being Irish and resurrecting the Irish identity it was forbidden to speak English in their house. While the rest of Dublin lived in an English speaking world, Hugo and his siblings grew up speaking German and Irish at home
Samantha Worden
Nov 14, 2016 Samantha Worden rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: class-books
The book The Speckled People: A Memoir of a Half- Irish Childhood was written by Hugo Hamilton. Hamilton was born in 1953 in Dublin Ireland. Born to a German Catholic, and Irish father. The book is a memoir on Hamilton's life growing up in a mixed ethnic household. The memoir follows Hamilton throughout his life, and the conflict he faced due to his mixed heritage. The Speckled People: A Memoir of a Half- Irish Childhood is a quick read providing insight into mixed heritage's complexity, but spe ...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
Nov 05, 2011 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librarybooks
‘When you’re small you can inherit a secret without knowing what it is.’

In ‘The Speckled People’, Hugo Hamilton writes, from a child’s perspective, of his Irish childhood. He writes of growing up in a home where the languages spoken were the Irish of his nationalist father and the German of his mother. English was forbidden by his father, who was so obsessed with trying to hold onto his linguistic and cultural heritage that he would not do business with anyone who could not pronounce his Irish n
Maol Mhuire O'Duinnin
Intriguing and heart-breaking account of Hamilton's childhood in 1950s Ireland being pulled in many different directions. His father is Irish and a stickler about his children learning Irish Gaelic in defiance of the increasingly encroaching English mainstream society in Ireland, including the language. Hamilton, however, is forced to learn English in school and he and his siblings are made fun of because they speak Gaelic by their Irish schoolmates. They are also antagonized for being half-Germ ...more
Amy Wilson
Nov 14, 2016 Amy Wilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The ‘Speckled People’ was written by Hugo Hamilton, published by HarperCollins Publishers Inc in 2003. Hamilton presents the readers with three stories in his memoir, his own as a child, his mother and father. Throughout this novel Hamilton address the complexities in his Identity, from his German mother to his nationalist father and living in Dublin surrounded by Irish-English. The issues that Hamilton presented can include: language history, culture, gender roles, along with the relationship b ...more
Oct 10, 2014 Christina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For a good portion of this memoir I was prepared to give it 2 or 3 stars. I believe I felt this way because for the most part, the book is written in a childish tone from a child's point of view and while at times I will admit I appreciated that, I believe it also elicited impatience. While I valued the unique story being told, I still struggled to see the bigger picture of where the overall piece was working toward. For me, it wasn't until the end that I decided to reward this book with a 4. Th ...more
Polina Kolatsi
In this deeply autobiographical novel Hamilton tells the story of a "speckled" -half Irish - half German- family in Dublin Ireland, trying to build their lives and home following the end of the Second World War. The narrator - and author- speaks to us as the oldest son of a German mother and an idealist and often purist Irish Catholic father who opposes the “anglophication” of Ireland and makes obsessive efforts to reinstate Irish as Ireland's native language, in the aftermath of the Irish Civil ...more
Nov 22, 2014 Kat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: irish-literature
I love this book so much because it makes me keep questioning about humanity. When I read about the bullying and execution, I feel so terrible and almost lost my fatih on human beings. The authour always write other plots at that time to reagin my faith on human beings. There's a significant scene about the author's sister. What the conductor did makes me feel warm again.

Actually I was a bit confused when I first read the reaction of the mother on her sons were bullied. I felt a little upset abo
Jan 16, 2010 Julia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hugo Hamilton erzählt von seiner Kindheit in Irland mit einer deutschen Mutter und einem irischen Vater, der seinen Kindern verbietet, englisch zu sprechen. Man kann sich vorstellen, dass das für ihn und seine Geschwister nicht immer einfach war, denn in den Fünfzigern waren die Nazis noch recht frisch im Gedächtnis (und Kinder können ja so grausam sein) und auch irisch war nicht mehr wirklich üblich.

Das Buch ist auch ungewöhnlich in dem Sinne, dass es wirklich wie von einem Kind geschrieben wir
Inna Zolotar
Jun 29, 2016 Inna Zolotar rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Чудовий і дууже актуальний (для України!) роман. Це книга-спогад хлопчика в післявоєнній Великобританії, який для одних ровесників був "німцем", "фашистом", "нацистом" тільки тому, що мама була німкенею, а для інших - впертим ірландцем, якому батько категорично забороняв вживати у побуті англійську... Що обрати - за будь-яку ціну берегти, боротись і захищати свою мову і ідентичність, чи бути "своїм", принявши всім зрозумілу, популярну і широко розповсюджену мову більшості? І як воно, бути дітьми ...more
It is not a very breezy kind of novel and is a story recited through the eyes of a boy. The story depicts the dilemma of a boy who is caught between multi nationalist parents and society and how he gets out of it. His odd childhod wherein he has to encounter a fiercely nationalist Irish father and German mom. Both the father and the mother are again caught in their homesickness. His mother's for Germany, his father's for an unavailable Ireland and the boy for a home and homeland of his own.The s ...more
Janice Windle
Feb 04, 2014 Janice Windle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This autobiographical novel is extraordinarily well written. Hamilton uses the voices that he might have had at the various ages from which he records the incidents, characters and emotional situations of his childhood up to his teens. The result is a novel of stunning immediacy, beauty and quite a bit of humour too. We meet Hamilton's strange, obsessive and abusive Irish father, his warm and life-affirming German mother, and gradually learn their stories through Hamilton's accounts of his mothe ...more
Nov 17, 2010 Margot rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I don't really know what to think about this book. It has been hightly recommended to me by a couple of people who actually used to share my type of books so I was really expecting a great experience. But I have been quite disappointed. I don't know if it is the childish point of view (and language level) that lowed the experience but I didn't enjoy it as much as I was supposed to. Well, I truly believe that the time you read a book is a huge factor in your appreciation of it and with all the wo ...more
A. Mary
This memoir did not engage me right from the start, and I think that may partly be the result of its departures from genre. Ultimately, those are the very things that give the book its depth. Hamilton's narrator is supposedly a child, and he does relate things in a fragmentary way as a child would, but his sophistication is not the accidental sophistication of the child. He speaks of language as a home, as a country, as a way of knowing who and where we are, and he shows ways in which culture do ...more
Rae Stoltenkamp
This has been an extremely tricky book to read. I almost gave up on it because I was finding the voice of the young protagonist very difficult to come to grips with. I persevered and it got a little easier. I think the thing I found most frustrating was that because there were so many world events described through a child’s eyes I didn’t feel as though I really understood what was going on. There were certain moments when I really wanted to know a whole lot more about the Easter Uprising etc bu ...more
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Hugo Hamilton is an Irish writer.

Hamilton's mother was a German who travelled to Ireland in 1949 for a pilgrimage, married an Irishman, and settled in the country. His father was a militant nationalist who insisted that his children should speak only German or Irish, but not English, a prohibition the young Hugo resisted inwardly. "The prohibition against English made me see that language as a cha
More about Hugo Hamilton...

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“Maybe your country is only a place you make up in your own mind. Something you dream about and sing about. Maybe it's not a place on the map at all, but just a story full of people you meet and places you visit, full of books and films you've been to. I'm not afraid of being homesick and having no language to live in. I don't have to be like anyone else. I'm walking on the wall and nobody can stop me.” 212 likes
“One day, my father said there was nothing outside infinity. He said the universe was like a cardboard box with God sitting outside surrounded by light, but I wanted to know if maybe God was sitting inside another cardboard box with the light on, and how could anyone be sure how many cardboard boxes there are.” 4 likes
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