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 story.
The protagonist, Paul, is an accomplished sixty-year-old succesful Dutch banker. He grew up in a strict reformed family in the Netheralnds and has been struggling with his homosexuality ever since. By being hard on himself, never allowing any emotions and always maintaining a firm order, happiness has eluded him.
One day, he receives a phone call from Skopelos, a Greek island informing him that Dimitris, an old friend has died and has named him as one of the beneficiaries in his will. Paul inherits the house of his friend. Memories and fond thoughts of Dimitris cause havok; chaos strikes in his carefully structured and balanced life. Confused and anxious, he travels to Greece, and when he arrives in the port of Skopelos, he is subjected to a roller-coaster of emotions, sadness and regret. Finally, after all those years he dares to come out and finds peace with himself and his surroundings.
The book strikes a chord with Christians all over the world who struggle with a strict upbringing in which there is no place for homosexuality.
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 a friend living 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 unfolded. 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.
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