TWO GREEKS, UQP, 2011
Cypriot migrant Haralambos Stylianou crosses the world to plant his personal flag. He marries Carol, fathers Angela and Andy, and rules a quarter-acre kingdom in suburban Melbourne. Without doubt he is a tyrant, but ten-year-old Andy figures 'all fathers must be part ogre, part child, part Zeus in the clouds - or all Greek fathers'. The question only becomes urgent when he senses that his peculiar little family is on the brink of collapse. His sister Angela, a fourteen-year-old theorist, has decided that men and women should live separately, girls with their mothers, boys with their fathers. His mother Carol is waiting for the advent of no fault divorce, when she will shuck off Harry Stylianou and all his crazy bullying, and live in peace. But Andy has a melodramatic mind and suspects that it could as easily end in murder. If only he could subdue his father's rage. If only he could charm the knife from his pocket. He's sure these are impossible wishes, until one summer's day in 1974 a miraculous Greek voice pierces the surrounding Anglosphere - promising to put the kingdom right. Two Greeks is a story about mentoring, delusion and a child's need to trust.
SILENT PARTS , UQP, 2006
In 1917 Harry Lambert is a fat, mother-coddled, forty-two-year-old country baker - surely not a candidate for the Great War then raging in Europe. Yet after the death of his mother he discovers that there is no place for him in his small Victorian town. In a fit of morbid self-doubt he allows himself to be swept into the army, and ultimately to France. Stationed well behind the lines in a military bakery, he's confident that the authorities recognise his unsuitability for the front. But in the spring of 1918 the Germans break through the allied lines and Harry is called on to fight. Only then does it hit him that he's unwilling to die for anyone. In panic he runs away into the French countryside. But who can he appeal to for help? On the flimsiest of misinformation he throws himself on the mercy of a Frenchwoman. She has no English, he just a few words of French, yet together they reach a silent accord that will mystify his relations back in Australia for generations to come.
Silent Parts was longlisted for the Miles Franklin Award in 2007. In 2013 it was reissued as An Accidental Soldier to coincide with the screen adaptation of the same name. The telemovie was scripted by Blake Ayshford, directed by Rachel Ward, and starred Marie Bunel, Dan Speilman, Bryan Brown and Julie Zamiro.
FURIES , UQP, 2004
Life hasn’t turned out the way Nicky expected. The daughter of Greek immigrants, the wilful teenager has left home early to become a teacher, bucking the expectations of her traditional parents who wanted her to stay until they arranged a marriage for her. Instead, she drifted into a loose community of artists and itinerant workers, and eventually to the small town of Rushburn where an experiment in communal living broke down almost before it begins. The results are a mud-brick house and a baby girl abandoned by her father. Fifteen years later Nicky and her foster child are still there, insiders but outsiders, their heritage and unconventionality setting them apart. As Imogen approaches womanhood Nicky struggles with the competing claims of teacher, mentor, legal guardian, sister and foster mother, and decides to move back to Melbourne to broaden Imogen’s horizons. Charalambous captures female characters beautifully, and he has a great ear for dialogue. There are some wonderfully poetic images in Furies, and the life of the country town is recognisably true without being stereotypical. For a male author to produce a novel with such a subtle rendering of the inner lives of women is a remarkable achievement.
This review from Australian Bookseller & Publisher magazine is reproduced by kind permission of Thorpe-Bowker, a division of R R Bowker LLC. © Copyright 2008, Thorpe-Bowker. Furies was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers' Prize Best First Book (Australasia and South Pacific Region).