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Foreign Words
Foreign Words

Foreign Words


228 Pages, 5 1/2 x 8

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $16.95 (US $16.95) (CA $22.95)

Publication Date: April 2006

ISBN 9780975444412

Rights: US & CA

Autumn Hill Books (Apr 2006)

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A lush, honest narrative of learning new words to bid farewell

Crossing countries and continents, this narrative follows a son lost for words over the death of his father. Unable to write the phrase "My father is dead" in either his native Greek or his adopted French, he heads for Africa to undertake the learning of Sango. Traveling across both borders and time, he examines his past, his family history, and the colonial and political ties of his homelands. While at first he does not know why learning a new and uncommon language has become vital to him, he comes to discover that the new language enables him to easily write of his father's passing. But as he truly experiences Sango—meets its speakers, travels where it emerged and has struggled to survive—his intimacy with it grows, and he is once again unable to utter the telling phrase. Meditating on language, loss, and the power of words to express or constrain human emotion, this tale of speaking, living, and letting go is filled with delicate suspense, humor, and honesty.

Author Biography

Vassilis Alexakis is the author of Avant, La Langue Maternelle, and Papa, all in French, and Talgo, which he wrote in Greek and later translated into French. He has also produced four films and a collection of drawings. Alyson Waters has translated Louis Aragon's Treatise on Style, Tzvetan Todorov's The Morals of History, and R+da Bensma-a's Experimental Nations, or The Invention of the Maghreb. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.