Friday 17 January 2014

Review ~ Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas

Atlantic Books
2 January 2014

Daniel Kelly’s dream for fame and fortune has been measured against the sacrifices which his family have made on his behalf and he cherishes a dream that his talent for swimming will take him away from his working class background. However, when Daniel spectacularly fails at his first major international swimming championship, he begins to spiral into a whirlpool of destructive behaviour which has repercussions, not just on his own life, but also on those around him.

What then follows is an uncomfortable read which dissects a life which has turned sour with bitterness, and demonstrates what happens when all the enchantment and mystery, has turned into disappointment and failed expectation. Once he hits rock bottom, Daniel Kelly has no place else to go and so must learn to control his behaviour if he is to survive.

Like Tsiolkas’s previous book The Slap, Barracuda gets off to a slow start, there is much to take in and the expletives within the narrative take some getting used to. However, putting all this to one side, when the story does get going, and for me it took a good couple of hundred pages before I started to feel even the remotest connection with Daniel, then the story of impressive failure really starts to get under your skin.

My feeling is that the book will be something of a ‘marmite’ read – you’ll either love it, hate it, or be somewhere in the middle. I guess I’m still hovering somewhere around the middle with, it must be said, no great enthusiasm, either for the writing, or the eventual outcome of the story.

My thanks to Real Readers for my copy of this book



  1. Interesting! I didn't like The Slap at all. I have a feeling this could be the same for me. However, I may well give it a go.

    1. Hi Jane - I'd love to know what you think of it when you get round to reading it.

  2. Ah, now, I'm different - I liked The Slap, and your review makes me want to try this one too, if only to see if I fall on one side or the other on the Marmite debate...!

    1. Hi Anne - If you liked The Slap - then you'll probably like this one !

  3. I'm reading this at the moment and enjoying the writing but it's taking a while to get going!


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