The First Third is out now. It started out as a kernel of an idea: what if my grandmother gave me her bucket list to complete? And from that, out grew this novel about what it means to be a grandson, a son and yourself.
It’s a more personal novel than I expected to write… It’s not about me, but there’s a lot of me in there.
And it’s definitely a lot of fun.
The first chapter is available online, click here to read it.
We could have been anywhere. Like sitting at a table in my grandmother’s garden, between the olive tree and the tomato patch – Mum, Yiayia, my brothers and I. Our fingers were greasy and our mouths were full. We were in our own little ethnic bubble.
You could practically hear the metallic twangs of the bouzouki.
There was too much food. There was always too much food. Mum and I were grazing, picking from the platter of haloumi cheese resting on my grandmother’s thigh; my younger brother was balancing his carbs, protein and fat, as if one family meal was the difference between being super-fit and morbidly obese; and my older brother was sampling like someone who’d lived out of home long enough to miss having six different types of meat in one sitting.
A dull beep cut through it all. The bouzouki trills ended abruptly. The bubble popped and the rest of the world roared into focus – the bed, the complicated medical equipment. And the other bed across the hospital room, the old man lying on it and the family exchanging worried, heartfelt looks.
The old man’s heart-rate monitor beeped again. And again.
‘Ma, stop moving,’ Mum said. ‘You’ll knock over the salad.’
We had lunch laid out on my grandmother’s hospital bed. She was still in it. It was lunch-meets-Jenga, one wrong move and it all fell down.
We’d pulled our chairs in close and started eating like it wasn’t ridiculous.
‘Um, guys?’ I found disguising observations as questions helped me walk the fine line between knowing it all and being a know-it-all. ‘Don’t you think we’re perpetuating some dangerous stereotypes here?’