Sometimes the gap between recommendation and action is (understandably) wide, so put these on your list for later: Justin Cartwright and Hugo Hamilton.
The first time I spoke with the fine Irish writer Joseph O’Connor the same question arosehe commended Hugo Hamilton, about whose memoir, The Speckled People, O’Connor enthused, a book for our times and perhaps for all time.
Anyway, the point here is the gap between recommendation and action has been almost halved. (Arriving at the point required only 154 words, but you do get two books for the price of one.)
Hamilton’s Disguise (HarperCollins) makes good use of the author’s German ancestry (as well as a brief cameo by his Irish roots with late scenes in Dublin and a minor character: a charismatic Irish musician). Thematically, Hamilton dwells on concerns about family and identity (lost and found) as he airs out the story of a man whose life has been (pre)occupied by the fact of his replacement/substitution for/of Gregor Liedmann, who dies at the age of three during the Berlin bombings late in World War II. The father of the traumatized mother replaces his dead grandson; the boy and the deceased Gregor’s father, who is fighting on the Eastern front, are not told of this. Later in life, Gregor learns of his origin and must at some point prove (or attempt to prove) his singular story to his wife. Hamilton nimbly lays out this unsettling story with dexterous, illuminating prose. As with my reading of Justin Cartwright, I’m sorry it took this long.
So it goes.