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Broken Greek

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‘Unflinching and heartwarming’Adam Kay

‘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. They 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 Rod 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 thrilling 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.

‘Lip-lickingly, dance-around-the-living-room good… A smash hit’ Observer

‘Tender, clever and as funny as it gets … a heart-piercing joy’ – Lauren Laverne

‘An exceptional coming-of-age story […] Pete Paphides may very well have the biggest heart in Britain’ – Marina Hyde

‘I ADORE this utterly wonderful coming-of-age memoir. Joyful, clever, and a bit heartbreaking’ – Nina Stibbe

‘Heartfelt, hilarious and beautifully written, Broken Greek is a childhood memoir like no other’ – Cathy Newman

‘So wonderfully written, such a light touch. Drenched in sentiment yet not in the least sentimental’ – John Niven

‘It’s brilliant. Sad, really funny and beautifully written … just fantastic’ – Alexis Petridis

‘A truly beautiful book’ – James O’Brien

‘Intoxicating’ – Kirsty Wark

‘Oh, how I love Pete Paphides and this book’ – Daniel Finkelstein

‘A balm in these times‘ David Nicholls

‘Fantastic … Can’t recommend it highly enough’ Tim Burgess

*Listen along with Pete’s BROKEN GREEK playlist on Spotify!*


...you'll be enthralled by Paphides' funny, warm and sometimes heartbreaking account of how life-affirming music can be
Jon Dennis, Telegraph
A book that will leave you smiling
Martin Chilton, Independent
A damn-near perfect book
Owen Richards, The Arts Desk
A must-read for music fans
A perceptive writer, brilliant on bittersweet details... this is a plaintive account of cultural assimilation that is also brilliantly, honestly funny
Andrew Male, Mojo
A smart and nostalgic read
Magic FM
All the energy, thrill and immediacy of your favourite single. I can think of no higher praise than that
Teddy Jamieson, the Herald
An absolute cherished read. Didn't want it to end
Annie Nightingale
Confessional, sorrowful and sublime
BA High Life Magazine
Saga Magazine
Entertaining, authentic and funny
Strong Words
Epic childhood memoir
The Week
Every single page is a joy to read, entertainingly but unsentimentally written ... This is one of the most enjoyable books I've read for a long time, a coming of age memoir that manages to be simultaneously tender, heartbreaking and laugh out loud funny
The Afterword
Warm and eccentric, it's rightly being talked up as the Fever Pitch of Pop
Heartfelt, hilarious and beautifully written, Broken Greek is a childhood memoir like no other
Cathy Newman
Heartwarming, sharp and beautifully observed
Roisin Ingle
I ADORE this utterly wonderful coming-of-age memoir. Joyful, clever, and a bit heartbreaking
Nina Stibbe
I can't tell you how good this book is. Incredibly, it's Paphides's first - I'd be amazed (and disappointed) if it's his last
Alan Johnson, New Statesman
I thought I wouldn't be musicky enough. And then I started reading. I wish I'd started earlier! So moving. I'm having to read it in short instalments, which is a cruel constraint, but at least it means I have longer to go before finishing it. And I don't want to finish it ever
Nigella Lawson
If you are in the market for a wonderfully written, deeply touching, pitch-perfect childhood memoir laced liberally with 70s nostalgia, then you need look no further
Long Live Vinyl
If you have ever... found solace in a song, you will relish this book
Jackie Annesley, The Sunday Times
Like the very best pop songs, it gets under your skin, and stays there
Nick Duerden, Independent
Lip-lickingly, dance-around-the-living-room good... A smash hit
Hannah Jane Parkinson, the Observer
Many of the challenges faced by young Paphides are standard childhood fare. It is in the telling that the author elevates his story to something rather beautiful
Chris Deerin, Big Issue
Jamie Atkins, Record Collector
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, The Times
Paphides can write like a dream, and knows how to make his particular circumstances resonate for anyone who, when young, hungered for music... a terrific achievement
Nick Lezard, Spectator
Paphides turns what could have been just another immigrant story into a detailed profusion of fact, genuine fun and a yearning, yarn-spinning search for cultural identity
Tony Clayton-Lea, Irish Times
So wonderfully written, such a light touch. Drenched in sentiment yet not in the least sentimental
John Niven
Such a heartfelt, genuinely affecting read
The Daily Express
Tender, clever and as funny as it gets ... a heart-piercing joy
Lauren Laverne
Tender, heartfelt, humane and very funny
Joe Clay, The Times
The day before I read the last line of the last page, I was struck by an immediate longing to stay in it
Andres Lokko, Svenska Dagbladet
This is a truly beautiful book. It makes the deeply personal profoundly universal and reminds us all of how much we have in common, wherever our parents might have come from
James O'Brien
This is such an exceptional coming-of-age story, not just because Pete Paphides has stunningly faultless emotional recall, but because he puts the memory to such warm and generous use. It is, for me, a study in kindness, borne of a lifetime of listening - to records, to his parents' stories of their past, to others, to everything. Perhaps three childhood years without speaking makes you the most extraordinary listener. I didn't just laugh and cry - though obviously I did both those things throughout. I completely fell in love with this book, and with its boy hero, though I'm sure he'd be far too modest and mortified to be described that way. He is, though. In fact, Pete Paphides may very well have the biggest heart in Britain
Marina Hyde
Unflinching and heartwarming
Adam Kay
Utterly joyous
Financial Times
With its forensic attention to detail and exquisite unpacking of the pre-teen mind, Broken Greek is an intensely personal hymn that sings a universal tune. Like the very best pop songs, it gets under your skin, and stays there
Victoria Segal, Q Magazine
If you love music and how it weaves its way into our lives, this is a perfect read
Get Ready to Rock
A warm and welcome corrective to the typical music-themed coming-of-age tale
Radio Times
An extraordinary, moving and funny coming-of-age memoir
Love It! magazine
A love letter to cheesy 1970s pop
Funny and evocative
A sweet and funny ode to the power of music
The Times
Anyone who has felt the power of pop to 'explain' their life to them, as Paphides has, will love this
There are a tonne of music-related memoirs by songwriters and music journalists out there, but this funny, soulful, coming-of-age autobiography will get under your skin like no other this year
The Big Issue
[Broken Greek] captures why the 1970s was such a weird decade and is also a loving testimony to the part music played in helping Paphides find a cultural identity. The book is also full of witty, authentic reflections on football, something you don't always find when authors horn in on the beautiful game.
Broken Greek took me on a fantastic journey back in to pop obsession and I loved it
Damon Albarn
Original, wry and radical
Mary Beard
This prize-winning memoir is a tender portrait of growing up between two cultures
Daily Mail
A delicious, music-mad coming of age memoir
Daily Mirror
Explains with enormous wit, warmth and pathos why pop music came to be [Paphides's] life-consuming passion
The Guardian
The model of the music-writer-memoir-with-a-twist ... enormous wit, warmth and pathos