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John Charalambous

Two Greeks by John Charalambous

October 2011, no. 335

What does a young boy make of a father who carries in his pocket a knife that is used to peel fruit, behead chickens, fashion toy flutes, and potentially serves as a weapon to kill his spouse? Two Greeks,the work of third-time novelist John Charalambous, is an engaging study of the power of family and the need for identity. In similar company to Raimond Gaita’s Romulus, My Father and Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap, the novel delves into difficult emotional territory, but does so with humour and humanity. Like its literary cousins, it has the foundations for an insightful filmic adaptation.

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Australian novels about World War I are typically tales of youth sacrificed and innocence destroyed in foreign lands for the Commonwealth. A good example is David Malouf’s coming-of-age novella, Fly Away Peter (1981). Nation and character matured simultaneously in the necessary baptism of fire. From the outset, John Charalambous’s second novel, Silent Parts, proves itself to be atypical and complex, with a forty-something anti-hero caught up in the not-so-Great War.

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