Wings of Wax

You Can’t Fly Unless You Spread Your Wings

Aspiring illustrator Angelo Koutouvalis is known for his near-flawless sketches, yet he can’t seem to render the picture-perfect life he desires. At twenty-four, he lives at home with his loving, yet overbearing mother and grandmother, and struggles to meet women, all while relying on the often humorously ineffectual advice of his few friends, and attempting to find a place for himself within the San Francisco Bay Area Greek community.

Angelo believes the secret to gaining fulfillment lies in traveling to Greece for a reunion with his estranged father, who can hopefully pass on the mysterious ways of the kamaki—the classic Mediterranean ladies’ man. But first, Angelo must find a way to overcome his crippling fear of flying.

A course of mis-adventures—chaotic employment in an exotic bird shop, a disaster of a date with a co-worker, and a close encounter with a stripper–lead Angelo to Greece. During an excursion around the Peloponnesian peninsula, which takes him from the ancient theater of Epidavros to the majestic Lion Gates among the ruins of Mycenae, Angelo, emboldened by the ties to his ancestry, finally has it out with his father and learns the startling truth of the man behind the myth.

Rife with references to Greek-American culture, and Oakland color, Wings of Wax evokes the work of Sherman Alexie and Junot Diaz in its tragically comedic scope of ethnic life and modern masculinity in America.

Praise for WINGS OF WAX

With poetic and passionate prose, Apollo Papafrangou takes us on a universal, coming-of-age journey that stretches from America’s Pacific Coast to a tiny beachside village in Greece. Wings of Wax is a deeply moving and entertaining story about a father and son and the sea that divides them. Papafrangou perfectly captures the loneliness, confusion, and fears of young adulthood and the desires we all possess at our core—to be comfortable in our own skin, to find a place we fit in the world, to have wings like Icarus and soar through the sky without worrying that the sun will melt them away. – Steve Karas, author of Kinda Sorta American Dream


A beautifully written book with an endearing narrator who flies us into the vortex of Greekness, first in America and then in crisis–ridden Greece. A candid story that tackles identity, kinship and love, and full of good humor: sharp-witted relatives, and smooth operators with worry beads. This could be the hot ‘Greek’ novel of the year! – Marjory McGinn, author of Homer’s Where the Heart Is’


In ‘the coming of age’ novel Wings of Wax, Papafrangou expresses, through detailed character development and description, the beauty of Angelo’s psychological journey, as well as his physical one through Greece; the land of his heritage. An enjoyable book full of life and comic relief. Effie Kammenou, author of The Gift Saga