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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Barracuda by Christos Tsiolkas


This author handles a topic which is very much one for the current times. To be at the top, to win at all costs and the path to get there.

Taking a look at current Australia, it handles all the topics that an Australian today faces - the cross cultural mix which makes up the country, their migration and the feelings of white supremacy, old idiosyncrasies in families and the competitive world of world sports.

Danny is born to a middle class family. Also a mixed race family - a Greek mother and a white European father. For Danny his mother though so supportive of his ideals is sometimes someone he is ashamed of.  This was sad but realistic. Danny is moving in a world of white young men who are so sure of their identity and position that they seem unshakeable. Having won a scholarship to a prestigious school (the family would never be able to afford the fees otherwise) Danny knows immediately that he is not "one of the chosen few".  However Danny has come there to win. 

His love of the water, his feelings of being one with the water, almost as if the water loves, supports and caresses him (the book is very sensual in this aspect), makes the reader realize very early on that this is the feeling that will carry Danny through and make him win. The water gives him the confidence that no one can. Once in the water, he is another person. One who will win at any cost.

In Barracuda at times the language is just over the top, there is so much swearing and crude sex but I guess that adds to the tone of the book. You also wonder whether the author is critical of the competitive spirit which overwhelms one in the world of Australian sport? Whether this is a world wide phenomenon I don't know. 

The story of the life of Danny centred around swimming, around winning and then losing, the characters that surround Danny during his epic rise and fall are the story.

This will not be a book for everyone but it is an eyeopener all right.

I received this book from Blogging for Books. Thank you.


  1. I had no idea Australia is facing issues like that. This does sound eye opening.

  2. I hesitate when I hear there is a lot of swearing and crude sex--I can take some, but not a lot. This does sound interesting though. Australia has always interested me, and I love reading about the country.