Last month saw the publication of Polis Loizou’s second novel, The Way It Breaks. Having already enjoyed his debut novel, Disbanded Kingdom, I was very much looking forward to this book. Particularly as in addition to all of his writing and theatre projects, Polis is also one of the wonderful booksellers at my local Waterstones, where I am a regular beloved customer/local nuisance. I even had the opportunity to wish him a ‘Happy Publication Day’ in person (sorry Polis, for any distress caused by my bleating across the shop at you like a madwoman)
But anyway, on to the book! With events taking place in Cyprus, The Way It Breaks is the story of a young man named Orestis, a man who like a lot of young people, is still trying to find his path in life, to establish where he wants to go and what he wants to be. Dissatisfied with his current situation, and in pursuit of a better quality of life and a brighter future, Orestis begins something of a journey – and one that takes him in paths you may not expect. I was interested to see how things would develop for Orestis, he is a character you are drawn to immediately, and one that is relatable as we find out early on that he is struggling to accept not only the life he inhabits, but his body. His struggle with his body image and the fatphobia that is ever present in society add to Orestis’ discomfort, and this struggle proves all the more significant considering how his journey plays out. A meeting with an old friend leads to an opportunity to interview for a role at a luxury hotel, something which helps to boost his confidence, and he feels that he is finally back on track, with the chance to pursue a more lucrative career path, that is until he meets a gigolo who shows him a different path entirely…
One of the strengths in Polis’ writing is in the authenticity of the characters and the setting. Born and raised in Cyprus, Polis has drawn from his own upbringing and the personal experiences of himself and his loved ones, the details of which have been woven throughout this story. As a result, its characters have an authentic voice, and the sights and sounds of Cyprus were vividly portrayed which helped provide fascinating insight into the life, culture and history that provides the backdrop for this story. The story itself is one that piqued my interest, and I was intrigued to see the transition made by Orestis over the course of the novel. We see a young man who begins from a position of vulnerability and insecurity, and watch as he becomes more comfortable with his body and his sexuality, venturing into unfamiliar territory, and forming unexpected connections along the way which have a huge impact on him. These themes surrounding body image, sexuality, love and relationships all play a key part as Orestis’ journey plays out, and it was interesting to see the layers of the story unfold, the bonds that are formed, and the way in which fate too plays a role as the lives of these characters become intertwined, and Orestis discovers the importance of human connection in the relationships he builds, as he discovers more about himself, and the world he wants to be in.
The Way It Breaks was published on 24th June 2021 by Cloud Lodge Books. You can find out more about Polis and his various works on his website: https://polisloizou.com/