Hamilton writes in a style that can best be called "Irish immediate". Everything happens in the first person with a sudden awareness and blunt description. This style is charming at first, but wearing with time. Nevertheless, the narrator's exploration of his secret past, his comic boyhood adventures and conflicts captivate the reader, and one is carried away by the story. The interplay between the fierce Irish nationalism and the German identity of the narrator's mother is interesting, but they are only the outward sign of an inward discovery as the narrator strives to understand himself. As in any cross-cultural clash, the conflict ends in a fresh synthesis. So Hugo discovers his own identity and realises that he does not have to be either German or Irish, but a unique blend of both. --Dwight Longenecker
'A wonderful book … thoughtful and compelling, smart and original, beautifully written … Hamilton has done an awful lot more with his strange and oddly beautiful childhood than just write it down.'
Nick Hornby, Sunday Times
'This story about a battle over language and defeat 'in the language wars' is also a victory for eloquent writing, crafty and cunning in its apparent simplicity.'
Hermione Lee, Guardian
'Early as it is to risk a judgment, it is hard to believe that this year will produce many books as memorable or moving as this.'
Roy Foster, The Times