By Vassilis Alexakis

Translated from the French by Harlan R. Patton

Mother tongue


ISBN: 9780975444412
215 pages / paperback / $16.95 US
cover design: Liz McGill
cover photo: Cornelia Canady

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Part linguistic mystery, part memoir of mourning, Mother Tongue chronicles the quest of a man named Pavlos to solve the mystery of the Delphic Epsilon while also coming to terms his mother’s recent death. After twenty years living and working in Paris as a newspaper cartoonist, Pavlos returns to his native Greece with no job and no clear plans for the future, beyond occasionally checking in on his widowed father.


This novel traces his Quixotic adventures—from his mission to collect words that start with the Greek letter E to his unsuccessful attempts to find his place within Greek intellectual and artistic circles—with Alexakis’s characteristic humor and sharp observational eye. At its heart this is a story of living in-between: between languages, between the past and the present, between life and death. Mother Tongue, translated by the French scholar and translator Harlan Patton, is only the second book by Alexakis available in English. His first book in English, Foreign Words, was also published by Autumn Hill Books