A novel about an inner journey of self-discovery by Paul van den Berg, a gay Christian man. It describes the emotional struggles of a banker who is stuck in his daily routines and almost autistic habits. Because of his strict religious background he had never been able to come to terms with his own homosexuality. Skopelos – a narrative about a quest for Ithaca is his moving story.
The protagonist is an accomplished sixty-year-old man. He grew up in a strict reformed family in the Netheralnds and has been struggling with his homosexuality ever since he can remember. By being hard on himself, never allowing any emotions and always maintaining a firm order throughout his life, true happiness has always eluded him.
One day, he receives a phone call from Greece. A friend from his past, Dimitris, has died and has named Paul as one of the beneficiaries in his will. Then, chaos strikes in his usually carefully structured life. Confused and anxious, he decides to travel to Greece. Once he arrives, Paul is subjected to a roller-coaster of emotions, sadness and regret.
The author Els Boot about Skopelos
The story about this quest for Ithaca sprouted after my friend Dimitris died of a heart attack. In the years that I’ve known him, he often told me about this friend that he had in the Netherlands. The last time I spoke Dimitris he said he planned to visit him again, after forty years. Unfortunately he never got the chance to do this. A few months later Dimitris died.
I forgot the name of his Dutch friend and because of this, could not search for him. Gradually the idea for this story was created. It is actually not a novel but more of a narrative or a trip report in a metaphorical sense. I deliberately chose to tell the story through the eyes of Dimitris’ friend. This way, the death of Dimitris feels not without significance. The comparison with Homer’s Odyssey is therefore logical.