Two fifty-something gay men fall in love in Australian author Christos Tsiolkas’ new book The In-Between.
The best-selling gay author of The Slap, Damascus, Barracuda and Loaded – the novel that became 1998 film Head On – released the new novel this week.
In it, Perry, a fifty-something Greek-Australian man, returns to Melbourne single after years working in Europe as an academic.
Serbian-Australian landscaper Ivan is in his late-50s and has an ex-wife, a loving daughter and the baggage from a breakdown of a decade-long relationship with a younger man.
Perry and Ivan meet on an online date after their city’s Covid lockdowns. Both of them bear the scars of previous relationships.
Both men have their own compelling reasons to give up on the idea of finding love. But they still turn up for the dinner.
They feel the spark and as Perry and Ivan fall in love, the two men also struggle with defence mechanisms and the fear of failing again.
The In-Between starts with a first date
Christos Tsiolkas explained to ABC Radio The In-Between is separated into five chapters, each covering a day and a night about a year apart. It opens with a nervous Perry, preparing for his date with the stranger.
“I heard the voice of a character who became Perry. I heard the voice of this man preparing for a date,” Christos recalled.
“Love is a topic I’ve been wanting to deal with for over 30 years now. I’ve got a scratchy scrawl on a notebook from the 80s saying, ‘One day I hope I can write well about love.’
“The other thing I wanted to write about was, is it possible to have different beliefs, different opinions, and find love?”
Christos explained, “When we open the book, I think both Perry and Ivan broken. They’ve had previous relationships that have involved love, but also betrayal and hurt and violence.”
The author explained the novel’s sex scenes are important because, at the “in-between age that Perry and Ivan are, the erotic was really important.”
“[Gay sex] was illegal, it was illicit, it was shameful. [But] one of the ways we connect with each other and know each other is through through the sexual,” he said.
‘The younger world is a bit strange to them’
The novel’s title comes from the fact that for Perry and Ivan, “the younger world is a little bit strange to them. They’re in-between,” Christos said.
“Perry and Ivan, even as they grow to love each other, are not going to feel comfortable holding hands,” he explained.
“I live in [Melbourne’s] northern suburbs. Just the other day, I saw two young guys walking to the supermarket holding hands.
“I thought, that’s brilliant, right? It’s still something you notice. But it’s not something I can do comfortably. I’d feel really self-conscious if I did with a partner.
“I wanted to explore stuff about masculinity and being a man in this moment of history. I thought there was a freedom in doing that through gay characters.”
Christos Tsiolkas’ The In-Between is out now. The author is launching the novel this month at special events around Australia.
For the latest LGBTIQA+ Sister Girl and Brother Boy news, entertainment, community stories in Australia, visit qnews.com.au. Check out our latest magazines or find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagra