Barracuda – Christos Tsiolkas

Fourteen-year-old Daniel Kelly is special. Despite his upbringing in working-class Melbourne, he knows that his astonishing ability in the swimming pool has the potential to transform his life, silence the rich boys at the private school to which he has won a sports scholarship, and take him far beyond his neighborhood, possibly to international stardom and an Olympic medal.

Twenty years later, Dan is in Scotland, terrified to tell his partner about his past, afraid that revealing what he has done will make him unlovable. When he is called upon to return home to his family, the moment of violence in the wake of his defeat that changed his life forever comes back to him in terrifying detail, and he struggles to believe that he’ll be able to make amends. Haunted by shame, Dan relives the intervening years he spent in prison, where the optimism of his childhood was completely foreign. –

What do you do with yourself when the only thing you have ever dreamed of and worked for doesn’t work out?

Danny Kelly was meant to be an Olympic swimmer. He was meant to be the best, the fastes, the strongest. He was meant to make it and take care of his family. Be revered and loved.

His dream lived and died in the pool.

As always, Tsiolkas writes with an unabashed rawness. There is no shame, no shying away in his writing. It’s confronting, harsh, dirty, real and unnerving and that is what keeps me coming back to his books. They may not be adventure and action packed, or fast paces, but if you’re looking for a novel that makes you confront the realities and short comings of life, rampant racism, bigotry and violence, then I suggest you pick up one of his novels. Especially Barracuda.

If you’re anything like me you’ll like the idea of being a fly on the wall in someone else’s life. Even comparing their life to your own and perhaps realising you didn’t come off too badly despite all you went through.

After all, when dreams die and we forget who we are, what other choice do we have than to rebuild and keep living?


  • Raw
  • Confronting
  • Subtle with a sledgehammer
  • Dynamic relationships and characters
  • Relateable as a second generation immigrant/wog and Melbournian


*Featured Image is from my instagram @coffeeandtrainspotting


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