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Foreign Words Paperback – April 1, 2006
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The writing--and the translation--are very well done, little details put here and there to add shape and texture to the world of the novel and its characters. I also especially enjoyed the things that didn't actually happen in the novel--bits of conversations he only imagined, backstories he projects onto otherwise background characters. Nicolaides worries about being older (fifty-two), but in some ways he is like a big kid.
Alexakis is the author of many novels, but this is his first available in English, thanks to publisher Autumn Hill Books and translator Alyson Waters.
P.S. Make sure to take notes on the Sango Nicolaides teaches you throughout the novel--you're going to need it :)
The first word of Sango Nicolaides learns is, appropriately, baba, which means "father." Now "orphaned" at age fifty-three, Nicolaides finds himself leading an ordinary, and somewhat stagnant, life in Paris. His last novel received lukewarm reception and his publishing contract demands he soon release another. He carries on a sporadic affair with a midwife named Alice and watches a friend fight cancer. Why he wants to learn a third language, particularly an obscure one, is something Nicolaides can't quite articulate at first, although he recalls that, "Whenever you begin to study a new language, you inevitably seem a bit foolish, you become a child again. . . The French language has become less amusing since it has become the tool with which I earn my so-called living.Read more ›