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Barracuda Paperback – 2 Jan 2014

86 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (2 Jan. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1782392424
  • ISBN-13: 978-1782392422
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 3.9 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 286,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Christos Tsiolkas is the author of Loaded (filmed as Head-On), The Jesus Man, Dead Europe and The Slap, which won the Commonwealth Writer's Prize 2009, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010 and shortlisted for the 2009 Miles Franklin Literary Award and the ALS Gold Medal. Barracuda is his fifth novel. He lives in Melbourne.

Product Description


TTsiolkas writes with compelling clarity about the primal stuff that drives us all: the love and hate and fear of failure... A brilliant, beautiful book. If it doesn't make you cry, you can't be fully alive. --Sunday Times

I finished Barracuda on a high: moved, elated, immersed... This is the work of a superb writer who has completely mastered his craft but lost nothing of his fiery spirit in so doing. It is a big achievement. --Guardian

Terrific --Kate Saunders, The Times

Masterful, addictive, clear-eyed storytelling about the real business of life: winning and losing --Viv Groskop, Red Online

This involving and substantial tale - surprisingly tender for all its sweary shock-value - is carried swiftly along by Tsiolkas's athletic, often lyrical prose. --Daily Mail

The Slap, Christos Tsiolkas's bestselling previous novel declared "Welcome to Australia in the early 21st century." The same semi-ironic sentiment echoes throughout Barracuda, which is, if anything, an even greater novel... It may tell an old, old story, but it has rarely been told in a better way --Sunday Telegraph

Christos Tsiolkas is in his natural element, with sentences gliding elegantly until the reader is utterly submerged in this absorbing story --Metro

This is a compelling, moving novel about identity, failure and the redemptive power of family --Mail on Sunday

See Christos talk about Barracuda --


“...Tsiolkas has written an absolute ripper.” (The Age)

“A contemporary Australian masterpiece.” (Australian Bookseller+Publisher) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 Jun. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Australia lionises its swimmers. They are recognised; they have nicknames; they are showered with sponsorship and gifts.

Danny Kelly, a schoolboy from Melbourne’s unfashionable northern suburbs has been awarded a swimming scholarship at one of the top private schools. He’s an outsider, but once he beats the rich kids in the pool he finds himself welcomed by those who had first given him the cold shoulder. He is christened Barracuda in recognition not only of his swimming talent but also his pugnacious attitude. The school swimming coach, Frank Torma, offers personal training twice a day and entertains the elite swimmers at his house, buying in the best pizzas they will ever eat. Danny’s future is already written.

For a moment, we could be forgiven for imagining ourselves in a Chris Cleave novel.

But, as each chapter progresses relentlessly forward from 1994 to the present day, the chapters have little codas in which time starts now and works backwards. After a couple of chapters, it becomes clear that there is a disconnect between the anticipated future and reality. There is one chapter, at the end of Part One, where the unwinding future narrative and the forward paced main narrative pass one another. That is the opening ceremony of the 2000 Sydney Olympics, the moment Danny and coach Torma had been planning for…

As in The Slap, Christos Tsiolkas shows us the seamy, venal, unsympathetic face of modern Melbourne. It’s back in Barracuda – the bigoted, blinkered views are on display in abundance. There’s the Jehovah’s witnesses; the chip-on-the-shoulder working class Scot; the grand old lady; the gay lover; the Turkish tomboy; and Frank Torma, the sports mad Slav.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By J.K. Currie VINE VOICE on 13 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback
Daniel/ Danny/Dan Kelly is/was/might be an Olympic class champion swimmer. Sprung from immigrant roots, a firmly working class Melbourne Australian, he and most of his family hope that success in the pool will help him transcend the limitations of his background. But Danny fails and his reaction to failure threatens to destroy his life and the lives of those around him.

I confess I was not enthusiastic about reading this novel. I hated Dead Europe and was decided not to read anything else by Christos Tsiolkas. Only I received this book as a review copy, it is unlikely I would have given it a second glance. But I'm glad I did. Enjoyment may not be the correct word for a novel which is by turns bitter and angry, exhilarating and visceral, tough and emotive. Tsiolkas hesitates at nothing and this book may not suit a reader of sensitive disposition. However, I found myself thoroughly gripped. The lack of chronological cohesion means that the reader is fed the story in three different time-zones, hence Daniel/Danny/Dan at the beginning of the review. This conceit teases and slowly reveals Dan's ambitious rise and fall and ultimate attempts to make sense of his life. At the heart of the novel is Australia, but even more so, the family, and the final section is a working out of what it means to be part of a family. Danny was not a sympathetic character for much of this novel, but with all his faults he goes some way towards ultimate self-redemption.

As another Greek wrote some two and a half thousand years ago, `Your wound is what you feed on, Philoctetes. I say it again in friendship and say this: Stop eating yourself up with hate and come with us'.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By CuteBadger on 10 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback
Daniel Kelly is an ambitious young sportsman who has been tipped for future success with Australia's swimming team. He is entirely focused on his target, despite problems at home and at the posh boarding school he attends on a scholarship. But when he doesn't do as well as he thinks he should have at a swimming event, everything starts to unravel.

Aptly enough, for a novel about someone confused about who he is and how he fits into society, this book has a complex narration. Events don't appear in order, some sections are headed with a date and location, others aren't. This doesn't make the book difficult to follow, but it did mildly irritate me at times. The author is trying to keep a secret from the start of the book until approximately two-thirds of the way through - we know right from the beginning that something major has happened to derail Danny's life, but we don't know what it is. The exact nature of the event is kept from us for nearly 300 pages, which at times felt a bit of a strain - the author seemed to be artificially prolonging the reveal.

When we do find out what happened I couldn't help but feel that this revelation wasn't powerful enough to compensate for having to wait so long for it.

Daniel is known by several different variations of his name and by nick-names in the book, a sure sign of confusion about where he fits in - not only within his family, but at school and in wider society. Everything about him is a subject for confusion, especially once his swimming ambitions are out of the picture. This makes the novel and interesting journey for the reader. I found it strangely compelling - I didn't particularly like Daniel but felt that I had to keep turning the pages to find out what happened to him.
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