The In-Between

Reviewed by Wendy Tucker

by Christos Tsiolkas

Christos Tsiolkas is the author of eight novels, he is also a playwright, essayist and screenwriter. He is best known for the international best seller The Slap and for his historical novel Damascus. 

Christos and his partner holiday at Narooma and love the area. They especially love Cobargo and Well Thumbed Books, ‘… one of his two favourite bookshops in the world’. 

Well Thumbed Books was honoured when on 7 January, Christos came to WTB to talk about his new novel The In-Between. 

First the title – as Christos explained, he sees the hyphen as important. He is in between youth and old age, the characters feel they are culturally in between the old ways of their immigrant parents and Australian culture. The structure invites the reader to fill in between each chapter. The chapters are 24 hours in the life of one or both of the characters and a year apart. 

Christos said that this structure allows us to follow the two main characters, Perry and Ivan, over five years in the five chapters. Both have been scarred by their previous relationships. Perry by grief and regret and Ivan by anger and shame. They are both fearful of being hurt and humiliated by love again. 

Christos believes that many writers today are fearful too. The fear of cancellation and misappropriation causes writers to lose courage. He believes it is important to be courageous but that courage must be combined with thoughtfulness. Writers must be fearless and truthful. There is love, sex and violence in the novel, as there are in the lives of men. 

He feels that in this novel he is in a more gentle and peaceful place and it is essentially a love story as Perry and Ivan seek and find ‘A love that is not possession, anchored in kindness’. 

Well Thumbed Books and the audience were privileged to hear and question this world-wide acclaimed author.