Quercus has bought the “extraordinary” coming-of-age memoir Broken Greek by music journalist Pete Paphides.
Non-fiction publisher Katy Follain secured UK and Commonwealth rights from Jo Unwin at JULA for publication in spring 2020.
The book covers Paphides’ early childhood in Birmingham, the city where his parents had moved from Cyprus, charting how the writer found solace from his problems in pop music.
Its synopsis explains: “Shy and introverted, he stopped speaking from age four to seven, 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 Pete needed to protect him from the tensions of his home life and to navigate his way around the challenges surrounding school, friendships and phobias such as visits to the barber, standing near tall buildings and Rod Hull & Emu. With every passing year, his guilty secret became more horrifyingly apparent to him: his parents were Greek but all the things that excited him were British.”
Follain admitted she pestered Paphides for 17 years to write a book ever since reading his Time Out columns. She said: “At last, I have been rewarded for my patience: Pete has written one of the most extraordinary childhood memoirs I have ever read, full of poignancy, humour and vivid detail, so much so that as the reader you are there in this lost kid’s head, feeling all the feels. Not only that, Pete can write about music like no one else can, and I cannot wait for others to experience what I did when I read his book. It has been worth the wait.”
Paphides, who is married to Caitlin Moran, 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 music documentaries for BBC Radio 4, contributes to BBC Four music documentaries and he also made a pilot for BBC 6 Music show "Vinyl Revival" which was later commissioned for two series.
He said: “At the end of 2016, I started writing down an episode from my childhood without a clear idea of what it was for. Somehow it felt different to previous things I’d written about my early life. Upon a friend’s advice, I sent it to Jo Unwin at JULA and, to my delight, she offered to represent me. By the beginning of 2019, it had turned into a book. The plan had always been to send it to Katy first and I’m thrilled and relieved by her response.”