'He asked the water to lift him, to carry him, to avenge him. He made his muscles shape his fury, made every stroke declare his hate. And the water obeyed; the water would give him his revenge. No one could beat him, no one came close.
'His whole life Danny Kelly's only wanted one thing: to win Olympic gold. Everything he's ever done - every thought, every dream, every action - takes him closer to that moment of glory, of vindication, when the world will see him for what he is: the fastest, the strongest and the best. His life has been a preparation for that moment.
'His parents struggle to send him to the most prestigious private school with the finest swimming program; Danny loathes it there and is bullied and shunned as an outsider, but his coach is the best and knows Danny is, too, better than all those rich boys, those pretenders. Danny's win-at-all-cost ferocity gradually wins favour with the coolest boys - he's Barracuda, he's the psycho, he's everything they want to be but don't have the guts to get there. He's going to show them all.
'He would be first, everything would be alright when he came first, all would be put back in place. When he thought of being the best, only then did he feel calm.
'A searing and provocative novel by the acclaimed author of the international bestseller The Slap, Barracuda is an unflinching look at modern Australia, at our hopes and dreams, our friendships, and our families.
'Should we teach our children to win, or should we teach them to live? How do we make and remake our lives? Can we atone for our past? Can we overcome shame? And what does it mean to be a good person?
'Barracuda is about living in Australia right now, about class and sport and politics and migration and education. It contains everything a person is: family and friendship and love and work, the identities we inhabit and discard, the means by which we fill the holes at our centre. It's brutal and tender and blazingly brilliant; everything we have come to expect from this fearless vivisector of our lives and world. ' (Publisher's blurb)
'Based on the book of the same name by Christos Tsiolkas, Barracuda follows young Olympic hopeful, Danny Kelly, as he deals with the pressure of obsession.'
Source: Screen Australia.
And now tell it to me
in other words,
says the stuffed owl
to the fly
which, with a buzz,
is trying with its head
to break through the window-pane.
-The Best Room, or Interpretation of a Poem,
For Angela Savage
'This article takes up a specific feature of Christos Tsiolkas's writing, his style. Focusing on Tsiolkas's fourth novel, The Slap, this article argues that Tsiolkas’s style is an inarticulate style: a style that does not always use the right word at the right moment, that employs language for narrative utility rather than its own sake, and that sporadically departs from standard usage and correctness in ways that do not appear artistically motivated. My argument is that The Slap is notable among contemporary fiction in that what I consider to be Tsiolkas’s worst sentences are the most revealing of his inclinations as a novelist. Consequently, I depart from what has become a standard formula in Tsiolkas's reception, that where Tsiolkas succeeds as a writer he succeeds in spite of his style. Finally, this article also contributes to recent debates about the purpose and vocabulary of Australian literary discussion: how critics debate the work of a prize-winning author, how criticism and praise operate in critical judgements, and the significance of style in evaluations of literature.' (Publication abstract)