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Broken Greek

Pete Paphides

3 Reviews

Rated 0

Memoirs

An extraordinary, moving and funny coming-of-age memoir about identity, chip shops and pop songs.

'Do you sometimes feel like the music you're hearing is explaining your life to you?'

When Pete's parents moved from Cyprus to Birmingham in the 1960s in the hope of a better life, they had no money and only a little bit of English. The opened a fish-and-chip shop in Acocks Green. The Great Western Fish Bar is where Pete learned about coin-operated machines, male banter and Britishness.

Shy and introverted, Pete stopped speaking from age 4 to 7, and found refuge instead in the bittersweet embrace of pop songs, thanks to Top of the Pops and Dial-A-Disc, From Brotherhood of Man to UB40, from ABBA to The Police, music provided the safety net he needed to protect him from the tensions of his home life. It also helped him navigate his way around the challenges surrounding school, friendships and phobias such as visits to the barber, standing near tall buildings and Rob Hull and Emu.

With every passing year, his guilty secret became more horrifying to him: his parents were Greek, but all the things that excited him were British. And the engine of that realisation? 'Sugar Baby Love', 'Don't Go Breaking My Heart', 'Tragedy', 'Silly Games', 'Going Underground', 'Come On Eileen', and every other irresistibly chilling chart hit blaring out of the chip shop radio.

Never have the trials and tribulations of growing up and the human need for a sense of belonging been so heart-breakingly and humorously depicted.

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Praise for Broken Greek

  • Tender, clever and as funny as it gets... a heart-piercing joy. - Lauren Laverne

  • Heartfelt, hilarious and beautifully written, Broken Greek is a childhood memoir like no other - a rapt testament to music's extraordinary power to root you in the world when little else seems to be doing the trick. - Cathy Newman

  • Oh, how I love Pete Paphides and this book. He can't write a paragraph that isn't funny or moving or insightful and often all three at once. For someone from a refugee family, like me, it just reads so true, but it's also a painting of another life so rich, so deep, that they should hang it in the National Gallery. - Daniel Finkelstein, Associate Editor at The Times

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