Broken Greek

Broken Greek

4.15 (495 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

Free delivery worldwide

Available. Dispatched from the UK in 3 business days
When will my order arrive?



'Lip-lickingly, dance-around-the-living-room good... A smash hit' Observer

'Unflinching and heartwarming' - Adam Kay

'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

'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.

*Listen along with Pete's BROKEN GREEK playlist on Spotify!*
show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 592 pages
  • 162 x 240 x 54mm | 836g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1529404436
  • 9781529404432
  • 12,455

Review quote

An extraordinary, moving and funny coming-of-age memoir * Love It! magazine * A warm and welcome corrective to the typical music-themed coming-of-age tale * Radio Times * If you love music and how it weaves its way into our lives, this is a perfect read * Get Ready to Rock * Confessional, sorrowful and sublime * BA High Life Magazine * Endearing * Saga Magazine * A smart and nostalgic read * Magic FM * Such a heartfelt, genuinely affecting read * The Daily Express * A must-read for music fans * Sheerluxe * Entertaining, authentic and funny * Strong Words * Utterly joyous * Financial Times * 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 * 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 * i * Warm and eccentric, it's rightly being talked up as the Fever Pitch of Pop * Guardian * An absolute cherished read. Didn't want it to end * Annie Nightingale * So wonderfully written, such a light touch. Drenched in sentiment yet not in the least sentimental * John Niven * Heartfelt, hilarious and beautifully written, Broken Greek is a childhood memoir like no other * Cathy Newman * I ADORE this utterly wonderful coming-of-age memoir. Joyful, clever, and a bit heartbreaking * Nina Stibbe * Tender, clever and as funny as it gets ... a heart-piercing joy * Lauren Laverne * Unflinching and heartwarming * Adam Kay * 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 * Heartwarming, sharp and beautifully observed * Roisin Ingle * 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 * 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 * 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 * 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 * 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 * Tender, heartfelt, humane and very funny -- Joe Clay * The Times * All the energy, thrill and immediacy of your favourite single. I can think of no higher praise than that -- Teddy Jamieson * the Herald * 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 * 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 * If you have ever... found solace in a song, you will relish this book -- Jackie Annesley * The Sunday Times * Wonderful -- Victoria Segal * Q Magazine * A book that will leave you smiling -- Martin Chilton * Independent * A damn-near perfect book -- Owen Richards * The Arts Desk * A perceptive writer, brilliant on bittersweet details... this is a plaintive account of cultural assimilation that is also brilliantly, honestly funny -- Andrew Male * Mojo *'ll be enthralled by Paphides' funny, warm and sometimes heartbreaking account of how life-affirming music can be -- Jon Dennis * Telegraph * Masterful -- Jamie Atkins * Record Collector * Like the very best pop songs, it gets under your skin, and stays there -- Nick Duerden * Independent * 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 * Lip-lickingly, dance-around-the-living-room good... A smash hit -- Hannah Jane Parkinson * the Observer *
show more

About Pete Paphides

Pete Paphides started his career in music journalism at Melody Maker before going on to write for Time Out, the Guardian, Mojo, Q, Observer Music Monthly and The Times, where he spent five years as their Chief Rock Critic. He has made several documentaries for BBC Radio 4, including 'Lost Albums', 'Follow-Up Albums', 'The Songs of Molly Drake' and 'Good Grief: The Story of "Peanuts"'. He has been a regular contributor to BBC Four music documentaries and hosted two series of 'Vinyl Revival' for BBC 6 Music. Since 2015, he has hosted a weekly music show for Soho Radio and also runs his own record label, Needle Mythology. He is married to the writer and journalist Caitlin Moran. Broken Greek is his first book.
show more

Rating details

495 ratings
4.15 out of 5 stars
5 45% (224)
4 34% (166)
3 15% (76)
2 3% (17)
1 2% (12)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X