Hugo Hamilton writes as if his life depended on it. There's a fierce and undeniable urgency in his prose that seizes you from the opening sentence of his latest novel to its remarkable conclusion. Some of this must stem from his own upbringing, as the son of a German mother and a militantly Irish father who insisted the family speak Irish or German (but never English). His latest book concerns itself with how identity is constructed, and on this - thanks to his upbringing - he has more to say than others. Hamilton demonstrates how easily ancestral secrets, often long ago interred, can still endure and shape us. His work centers on acts of remembering, and bringing to light, and in doing so he achieves moments of near miraculous delicacy and clarity. Disguise is a book about finding the self, and Hamilton writes hauntingly about the challenges and rewards of that quest. Harper Collins, $23.99.

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