January 20, 2016

Dancer from the Slavs

On Lluís Maria Todó’s Isaac y las dudas (“Isaac and the Doubts”)

The plot of this 2003 novel of sexual initiation is pretty simple: 17-year-old Isaac is still doubtful about coming out. Also, he knows his father Lluís is secretly wishing him to declare himself straight once and for all.

Isaac’s platonic love is his hot young literature teacher Ferrán, who glances at Isaac every time he mentions gay authors in class; the teacher highlights the point that this is the moment in history when you can openly discuss about homosexuality. Ferrán’s attention to both the topic and his enchanting student gives cause to Isaac and Rafa—Isaac’s swishy, sexually experienced gay seatmate, currently dating a cop nearly twice his age—for thinking that Ferrán is gay as well, and blindly drawn to Isaac.

One day Isaac gathers his courage and dates Ferrán for opening his heart—but his precious teacher does not respond the way that Isaac and his friends had expected. . .

Well, this is not the end of the world—especially when Dimitri turns up. This new character is a gay Russian dancer who has recently arrived in Spain, a destination that he had chosen filled with hope and expectation. Dimitri and Isaac like each other at first sight—No wonder: Isaac is described as a Greek beauty: dark, deep eyes and curly, bushy hair; while Dimitri squares with the Slav type: pale, blond and light piercing-eyed—besides his perfect anatomy built up through years of dedication to ballet. Dimitri happens to be the guy to whom Isaac eventually loses his virginity.

Anyway, not everything is joy and pleasure; Dimitri is almost killed in an attempted murder. The Russian mafia that helped him leave his native country is believed to be behind. Isaac gets determined to watch over him while Dimitri is hospitalized, and this decision will bring about Isaac’s final coming out, showing that sexual identity is not so much asserted because of sexual rather than sentimental resolutions.

Once to this point—what makes Isaac y las dudas so different, so appealing? Well, we have left aside another important story so far—let’s go back. . .

Isaac’s classmate David is also inexperienced at the beginning of the novel. His mother Roser, a so fanciful, so romantic dancing school for children owner, always inclined towards arty-farty stuff—as well as a casual stoner—, is ready and willing to hear from her son: “Mommy, I am gay.” But this sentence still remains unuttered. What is eating David? Why is he waiting so much to confess his inclinations, given that his mother is so happily receptive?—The truth is that David is in a fog.

He can see the hints: his mother’s unyielding wish that her son must be gay; also, his unmanly company: a circle of none-but-gay-or-girl friends—However, he is not so certain. . .What can he do? Well, here is when the most exceptional feature of this novel happens.

To make up his mind, David is resolved to have sex with another guy. The chosen one is his mother’s hot new employee, Dimitri. Sex happens naturally, and it is okay—but after this experience David is sure that he is not gay. This event means a variation in the usual topic of the gay man who has sex with women to test his sexuality. It could be said that the best aspect is that the boy does not try it out as a bruising issue, but he gleefully shares his experience with his gay and girl friends.

Another surprising feature in this novel comes from the point that it is adult people who must learn an accepting lesson:
·       Ferrán, his true sexual identity;
·       Isaac’s father, his son’s homosexuality; and,
·       David’s mother, her son’s heterosexuality—no matter how much she loathes this.

This novel also reminds us of the state of play in other countries different from Spain. Concerning Dimitri, he had to turn to the mob so that he could leave Russia, a place where happiness is not possible for him.

Lluís Maria Todó’s narration is as unaffected as elegant. For instance, sex is shortly mentioned; this is not a scabrous novel aimed to make the reader arouse and enjoy some fun. The author respects his creations and takes care of their privacy. After all, Todó is focused on the feelings of this group of adults and teens, all confused at first, but able to see the light at the end of the tunnel in the end.


  1. Muchas gracias por la atenta lectura y el comentario tan elogioso.


    1. ¡Gracias a ti por tu ayuda!

      En pocos días publicaré la entrevista ;)