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Barracuda - Christos Tsiolkas

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Published: 1st November 2013
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Published: 23rd October 2013
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Published: 1st November 2013
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Tender and brutal and blazingly brilliant, the new novel from the acclaimed author of the international bestseller The Slap takes an unflinching look at modern Australia - at our hopes and dreams, our friendships, and our families - and asks what it means to be a good person and what it takes to become one.

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.

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?

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. It is 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. Barracuda is brutal, tender and blazingly brilliant; everything we have come to expect from this fearless vivisector of our lives and world.

Read John Purcell's Review

This is a difficult book to write about. It has a personality rather than a plot. It is built upon emotion rather than reason. It is all shouts and whispers and nothing in between.

As a boy Danny Kelly wants only one thing - to be the greatest swimmer of all time. And his dream isn't farfetched. His coach believes he can do it. His mother is behind him, waking early and driving him to the pool. And his peers think he can do it, though they resent him for his talent.

Every waking moment of Danny Kelly's life is lived in pursuit of that single goal - which makes him a bit of a shit.

Christos Tsiolkas doesn't deliver Danny's story in sequence. Because Danny's life isn't linear. There is one central event, one devastating moment in Danny's life and all other moments are either before or after it. He has no past, present, or future. Everything races towards and circles back to that event. If we want to understand Danny we need to understand this.

Barracuda questions our obsession with winning and winners. It examines failure, shame and regret. It asks whether we can ever be truly forgiven for our sins. And it does so in naked fearless prose. This is not an uplifting book, but unlike Eyrie, there is love and there is hope. And it suggests we are only as isolated from others as we allow ourselves to be.

REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
Barracuda
 
3.3

(based on 14 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (4)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (4)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (1)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (2)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (3)

57%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Well written (6)
  • Engaging characters (4)
  • Page-turner (4)

Cons

  • Disappointing (5)

Best Uses

  • Older readers (5)
  • Gift (3)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Bookworm (7), Everyday reader (6)

Most Liked Positive Review

 

a 'must read' Australian story

It is the measure of a book when the worst thing about it is that you don't like the main character. Danny is a brat. You will want to nurture him and teach him...Read complete review

It is the measure of a book when the worst thing about it is that you don't like the main character. Danny is a brat. You will want to nurture him and teach him some things about life. In other words, you will read about your own shortcomings and frame his redemption in your own head. This is an important book.

VS

Most Liked Negative Review

 

Barracuda, into the recycling bin

This could have been a good story but it was ruined by the bad language, obsession with sexuality and graphic details. I persevered until halfway through the book but, even though I wanted...Read complete review

This could have been a good story but it was ruined by the bad language, obsession with sexuality and graphic details. I persevered until halfway through the book but, even though I wanted to know who he had killed and under what circumstances, I couldn't keep ploughing my way through it.
It is such a shame that an author seems to not have the confidence to tell a story without "dressing it up" with obscenity. Not only was the potential of this story lost but I certainly won't be looking for any more novels by this author.

Reviewed by 14 customers

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Displaying reviews 1-10

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5.0

Gritty but quite brilliant

By Beach girl

from Queensland

About Me Everyday Reader

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Well Written

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Older Readers

    Comments about Barracuda:

    I wanted to criticise this - Tsiolkas can't be that good, can he? - but find I am transfixed by the portrait he paints. This is a book about the quality and effect of human shame. As with all great novels it is also about other things but mostly it is about shame and where it can - and does - take any one of us.
    Thanks Chris

    Comment on this review

     
    4.0

    Uncomfortable reading but had to finish

    By LizzieC

    from Sydney, AU

    About Me Everyday Reader

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Older Readers

        Comments about Barracuda:

        I loved the slap, couldn't put it down and this doesn't disappoint me, but found it an uncomfortable read. The main character is a troubled, turbulent young man who is difficult to like. Perhaps because he challenged me beliefs?

        Comment on this review

         
        5.0

        Enticing hidden human parts exposed

        By Ozmentor

        from Melbourne

        About Me Bookworm

        Verified Buyer

        Pros

        • Deserves Multiple Readings
        • Easy To Read
        • Engaging characters
        • Informative
        • Page-Turner
        • Well Written

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Gift
          • Older Readers

          Comments about Barracuda:

          Excellent service, prompt accurate delivery once again-thanks!

          Comment on this review

           
          2.0

          Not what I expected

          By Disappointed

          from Melbourne,Au

          About Me Casual Reader

          Verified Buyer

          Pros

            Cons

            • Not What I Expected

            Best Uses

            • Older Readers

            Comments about Barracuda:

            Gay relationships and quite explicit sexual descriptions were not what I was expecting from this book. I thought I was going to read about champion swimmers mindset and experience but the other ruined it for me.

            Comment on this review

             
            4.0

            Intriguing, wanted to know more.

            By KK Reader

            from Sandy Point, Vic, AU

            About Me Bookworm

            Verified Buyer

            Pros

            • Easy To Read
            • Page-Turner

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Gift
              • Travel Reading

              Comments about Barracuda:

              Great selection of books.

              Comment on this review

               
              5.0

              Great author, never disappoints!

              By Vanna

              from Miandetta

              About Me Bookworm

              Verified Buyer

              Pros

              • Engaging characters
              • Page-Turner
              • Well Written

              Cons

                Best Uses

                  Comments about Barracuda:

                  I have never been let down by Christos Tsiolkas, (started reading him before the tv series of The Slap). His style is very different, which is great.

                  Comment on this review

                   
                  4.0

                  Don't get influenced by the publicity

                  By Designer Liza

                  from Perth

                  About Me Bookworm

                  Verified Buyer

                  Pros

                  • Informative
                  • Page-Turner
                  • Well Written

                  Cons

                    Best Uses

                      Comments about Barracuda:

                      This book was a constant companion while I was reading it. An excellent C'mas present to myself. Now that I've finished it, I can read others. Beforehand, other books didn't get a look-in.

                      Comment on this review

                       
                      1.0

                      Barracuda, into the recycling bin

                      By Robyn

                      from Mittagong, NSW

                      About Me Bookworm

                      Verified Buyer

                      Pros

                      • None

                      Cons

                      • Disappointing
                      • Graphic Descriptions
                      • Unnecessary Bad Language

                      Best Uses

                      • Expensive Paper Recycling

                      Comments about Barracuda:

                      This could have been a good story but it was ruined by the bad language, obsession with sexuality and graphic details. I persevered until halfway through the book but, even though I wanted to know who he had killed and under what circumstances, I couldn't keep ploughing my way through it.
                      It is such a shame that an author seems to not have the confidence to tell a story without "dressing it up" with obscenity. Not only was the potential of this story lost but I certainly won't be looking for any more novels by this author.

                      Comment on this review

                       
                      4.0

                      Definitely Worth Reading!

                      By Skyte

                      from Newcastle NSW

                      About Me Bookworm

                      Pros

                      • Interesting Characters
                      • Original
                      • Thought provoking
                      • Well Written

                      Cons

                        Best Uses

                          Comments about Barracuda:

                          This book tackles the topic of "shame" in a deep and thought provoking way. I really loved reading Barracuda and was surprised to see that people are polarised about this book. I thought Danny was a refreshingly unique character and loved Christo Tsiolkas' writing style. I read this a few weeks ago now and I am still thinking about it. Give it a go!

                          Comment on this review

                          (0 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

                           
                          2.0

                          Very dissappointing

                          By Liz C

                          from Sydney

                          About Me Everyday Reader

                          Pros

                            Cons

                            • Disappointing

                            Best Uses

                              Comments about Barracuda:

                              I really disliked Danny - there was hope he would show some depth, but no. The book was long and tiring - I struggled to finish it. Shame that I didn't spend my precious time reading something better.

                              Comment on this review

                              Displaying reviews 1-10

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                              Christos Tsiolkas

                              Christos Tsiolkas was born in Melbourne in 1965. Loaded, his first novel, was published in 1995 and later made into the award-winning film Head On. In 1996 he collaborated with Sasha Soldatow on the dialogue Jump Cuts. His novel The Jesus Man was published in 1999.

                              His critically acclaimed novel Dead Europe was published in 2005 and in 2008 he reached bestselling status with the bold The Slap which won the Commonwealth Writers Prize and was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award.

                              He is also the author of several plays including Who's Afraid of the Working Class? and Dead Caucasians and Non Parlo di Salo, co-written with Spiro Economopoulos.

                              Visit Christos Tsiolkas's Booktopia Author Page


                              ISBN: 9781743317310
                              ISBN-10: 174331731X
                              Audience: General
                              Format: Paperback
                              Language: English
                              Published: 1st November 2013
                              Publisher: Allen & Unwin
                              Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.3  x 3.9
                              Weight (kg): 0.69
                              Edition Number: 1