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3.67  ·  Rating details ·  7,632 ratings  ·  926 reviews
From the author of The Slap.

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. Everything Danny has ever done, every sacrifice his family has ever made, has been in pursuit of this dream--but what happens when the talent that makes
Paperback, 516 pages
Published November 1st 2013 by Allen & Unwin (first published October 26th 2013)
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Jen Mactaggart I found the characters clichéd and caricatured - obsessed athlete, distant father, posh kids at private school etc. I enjoyed reading it but it felt v…moreI found the characters clichéd and caricatured - obsessed athlete, distant father, posh kids at private school etc. I enjoyed reading it but it felt very familiar and not terribly original.(less)

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Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,632 ratings  ·  926 reviews

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Carolyn Francis
Nov 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourite-novels
Reading Barracuda was a profoundly uncomfortable experience. Initially it is unclear whether Tsiolkas is celebrating or critiquing the culture of winner-takes-all, class warfare, emotional repression, power as currency, hate as fuel and survival of the fittest. The sex, real and imagined, is tawdry. The prose is often a steady, bracing stream of f*** this and c*** that, which is not how people like me speak. But Barracuda is not a story about people like me. It is, however, the best novel I have ...more
Mar 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-lit-wd
Barracuda by Australian author Christos Tsiolkas is a book I’ve been meaning to read for a very long time. I loved The Slap by the same author but have dragged my heals over this one.
The Barracuda of the title is Daniel Kelly, a boy from an ordinary, working class background who, through his top swimming skills, wins a scholarship at a prestigious private school. Once in the care of Coach Torma he is pushed hard within an intense training regime and his overriding (only) aim in life is to make t
Jul 31, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorite
I'm totally loved it ❤️❤️❤️❤️'
Dec 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: literary
Barracuda – Really?

What can I sat about this book? Well it is the first time since I left school with my A level in English Literature that I have really had to force myself to finish a book. I am sure that the anal retentive literary critics will love this book, but the book buying public will not be impressed. This book forced me to read others reviews to see if I was missing something and those who have bought the book regret their purchase and clearly it is not just me that is not impressed
John Bartlett
Oct 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
The thing about anything written by Tsiolkas is that it's difficult to rush to a quick and facile review.
On the contrary I always need to think long and hard about what I have read. Of course I liked the writing very much and the overall story, exploring characters and issues of failure ring very true.
Some sections I thought were quite brilliant, where Tsiolkas portrays characters bumping up against each other uncomfortably.
One section where the young Danny visits the home of an upperclass famil
Tom Malden
Jul 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbt, read-2019
I read this book after Chris Gill listed it as inspiration for The Nowhere and can definitely see why. It's confronting to read but great nevertheless. ...more
‘‘He was swimming and he was flying into his future.''

‘’Always answer back. Take control, always take control.’’
Some of you really need to learn how to drag people. You need to be able to answer back. You don’t want to be weak ass bitch do you now?
‘‘She swore in Greek.''
Say Γαμώ το σπίτι σου γαμώ you pussy. We are all adults here, we can handle it.

Danny… Dan… he is such a narcissistic cunt and I kinda love him.
Look, the first part was in my opinion amazing. The second was just okay
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

3.5 Stars

“I see a beautiful gigantic swimmer swimming naked through the eddies of the sea,
His brown hair lies close and even to his head, he strikes out with courageous arms, he urges himself with his legs,
I see his white body, I see his undaunted eyes,
I hate the swift-running eddies that would dash him head-foremost on the rocks.

What are you doing you ruffianly red-trickled waves?
Will you kill the courageous giant? Will you ki
In Barracuda, Christos Tsiolkas tells a tragic story of a 14year old boy, Danny Kelly; his hopes and dreams of becoming a ‘golden boy, representing Australia in the Olympic games in the swimming competitions. Born into a working class family with Greek and Scottish parents, Danny earned a scholarship to a prestigious boys school for his strength in swimming. Danny was being bullied in his new school, but he’s caught on early that the only way to earn respect is to adapt ruthless attitude and mor ...more
Dec 09, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Review posted on my blog:

When I received Barracuda in the post and noticed the sticker on the front proudly advertising that is was written by the same author as The Slap my heart sank a little bit, as that is one of the worst books I've ever read. It's a novel that made me very, very angry and for all the wrong reasons too - even over two years later I still feel the annoyance bubbling up just thinking about it. For that reason I seriously contemplated no
Danny Kelly has only one true goal in his life: to win gold at the Sydney Olympics. In order to achieve that Danny attends a prestigious private school that has one of the finest swimming programmes in the country. Danny loathes the school he calls cunts college due to constant bullying and being shunned as an outsider due to his families working class roots. Danny's coach firmly believes in him and pushes him onward towards his goal. He will eventually win over the doubters with his winning or ...more
Ruth Stewart
Dec 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a rich and multilayered book, On one level it is a very honest book about the sacrifices we are prepared to make and their consequences and it is also about a lot more than that.

Christos Tsiolkas creates characters who live and breathe, sweat and feel in complex ways. In this book he examines the nature of love; love for family, parents and siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles, love for friends and for lovers. The writing zips along, like a muscle bound jock on roller skate
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
At around page 50 I was thinking ok this is going to be three stars, then four and by the time I reached the final part I knew this was a masterpiece. It’s raw, honest, moving, heartbreaking, at times too crude or unsophisticated even, but complex and really, deeply profound. And it’s all there: failure, despair, hope, disillusionment, shame, love, repression, angst, cruelty, regret, guilt, atonement.
I am very, very impressed. It has honestly been a very long time since any book has moved me so
Brown Girl Reading
My rating is a 4,5

I was surprised at how good this book was. I wasn't so sure this one was going to be for me after reading the first 40 pages but after that something clicked and I was hooked. Barracuda is the story of Danny Kelley. He's a gay Australian boy that's been accepted into a fancy school on a full scholarship to swim. All goes well until he has a melt down at a competition when he places 5th. From there the downward spiral of Danny and how all those around him family and friends reac
Nov 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Look, I loved it. After really struggling with a few books lately - just finding it hard to kick on through the middle, I simply devoured this thing on a couple of flights. I love his writing, always have. It is literary in how it moves and what is beneath it but at the same time it is brutal and honest and . It just is. This follow up to The Slap, which could easily be called The Splash, in that it is about swimming, is an epic journey of a kid called Danny Kelly who gets inserted into a fancy ...more
Glenn Sumi
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: not-usa-can-uk
Christos Tsiolkas’s brilliant Barracuda will make you think about what Olympic athletes sacrifice to be faster, higher and stronger. It’s not as savagely satirical as his breakthrough novel, The Slap (now a TV series), but it does offer an intriguing look at contemporary Australian life.

Danny Kelly is a gifted swimmer who earns a scholarship to train at a posh Melbourne boys school, where he’s bullied because of his working-class background and his ethnicity – he’s part Greek, part Scots-Irish.
Linda Rollins
Dec 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
A young boy gets a scholarship at an exclusive school, so that he can pursue his Olympic swimming dream. He believes he is the strongest and the best swimmer so when he loses just one race he gives up his dream, and swimming, completely. I think the story is supposed to be how he copes – or rather doesn’t cope – with his circumstances.

This was a tough book to get through. Firstly, the story flits back and forth between, I think, around 3 or 4 time periods – it’s all over the place. The main prot
Jul 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
Ideally I would have liked to have given this book 4.5 stars. It was a real rollercoaster ride of emotions.
It was a very raw and heartbreaking read and at times quite confronting. I loved all the characters but especially my heart went out to Danny. Mind you at times I just wanted to thump him!!! I feel that the book leaves you with a sense of hope and shows that no matter what a person experiences, how downtrodden they may be the human spirit is quite resilient and can rise above almost anythin
I absolutely loved this book. I cried, I smiled, was enraged, upset, shocked but overall enjoyed the story and the writing so much, that this must be the best book I have read this year.

The story of the fall and rise of Danny Kelly, a boy with the potential to become the fastest, strongest and quickest Olympic swimmer is so well told, it just sweeps you along. I didn’t want it to end.

Danny story is one that most people should be able to relate to, as so much of it has happened to all of us – hig
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbt, fv
It's been a very long time since I read a book in one sitting, but I just couldn't stop reading this one! 5/5, I don't even know what to say here.
Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Family, working class life and immigrant woes continue to preoccupy Tsiolkas who tackles sporting ambition and its aftereffects in Barracuda. This is classic Tsiolkas, with his trademark rage and a riveting story. Alienation is a predominant theme here, with the protagonist struggling to fit in Australia with his half-Greek identity, struggling to fit in as a scholarship student among the rich kids at his expensive school, struggling to fit in his own unassuming family as an ambitious man. The n ...more
Michael Livingston
Apr 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
I'm glad Christos Tsiolkas exists - he's a writer who sets out to tackle big themes: class, race, competition and sexuality. The Slap was very successful at wrestling with these big topics while drawing a set of fascinating (if largely horrible) characters. Barracuda tries the same thing with a slightly narrower focus, centering on Danny Kelly a young, working class swimmer whose talent transports him into a privileged world (fancy high school, elite sports squads) and whose failures (both sport ...more
Oct 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I savoured this book from the first page. I had been captivated by The Slap, and once heard Christos Tsiolkas speak, so I had been looking forward to reading this new novel. I was delighted to receive it as a pre-release review giveaway via Goodreads. Tsiolkas is frank about the way he writes, and was the first author I had met who spoke about writing and discarding chapters and perspectives. Knowing how carefully his books are structured means I knew to expect a non-linear story-telling style, ...more
Oct 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Reading Barracuda is like treading on a stony shore. It crashes into our consciousness like waves and unsettles us, challenges everything we are. It is unflinching and exposes the in between spaces of Australian society.

Danny Kelly is a working class boy from Melbourne’s north. He is a wog with a dream to win Olympic gold, to emerge from his many labels and be seen. His mother is a “wog Marilyn Monroe,” his farther a Scotch-Irish truckie. Dan is as fearsome in the water as Barracuda, a nickname
Ben Langdon
Nov 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This isn't The Slap, but it's certainly an equally emblematic novel for our times. Barracuda tells the story of Danny Kelly - it is focused so brightly on him as a teenager - rather than the ensemble cast of The Slap. However, Tsiolkas' writing is such a slow-burning, irrepressible thing that the focus on one character actually makes this book better, more impressive, than the previous one.

It's not all an easy read, though. I struggled in the beginning to care about Danny, but that's the point,
Lauren Kennedy
This book was just like Tsiolkas' other books. It was a sort-of-not-really coming of age story with the usual bad language, descriptions that will make you cringe, sex (especially gay sex) and an element of Greek heritage and language. That's not a bad thing at all though, that's what I expect when I read one of his books. Though, some people will find it hard to read if they are sensitive to words like the 'c' word and detailed descriptions of late night masturbation and many sexual fantasies o ...more
John Purcell
Aug 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 Ke
Sep 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
When the others, represented by a different and in this case higher socioeconomic class, bully and belittle Daniel long enough he turns this back on himself. An outstanding swimmer he shows all the potential in the world to become a world class athelete. Singled out by his coach at an elite private school it feels as if he may find redemption. He heeds his coach’s advice learning to stand up for himself. Sadly this is not the solution to the complex and myriad self doubts of Daniel’s persona. Th ...more
Nov 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was such an intense read that I'm not even sure I can write a review yet, other than I thought it was much more complex and interesting than The Slap, the only other book by this author that I've read.

If exceptionally coarse language, political incorrectness and explicit sex scenes make you uncomfortable, you should stay clear of this book.

I admire an author who creates an unsympathetic protagonist (it would be fair to call him a violent psychopath at times), and yet, with the narrative sw
Sep 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
First of all, I'm not going to compare this to The Slap, chiefly because I never finished The Slap. The writing was great, and it was extremely perceptive, but I just got to a point where I just couldn't bear to be in the same room with those godawful characters any longer. Strangely enough I think that this is where Tsiolkas's particular genius lies, that is in the way he really gets under your skin. I read Barracuda over the course of a week or two and while it was engaging, it wasn't - at lea ...more
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Spoiler question about the plot 7 210 Nov 09, 2014 02:33PM  
Aussie Readers: Barracuda 12 135 Oct 11, 2014 05:16AM  

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Christos Tsiolkas is the author of five novels: Loaded, which was made into the feature film Head-On, The Jesus Man and Dead Europe,which won the 2006 Age Fiction Prize and the 2006 Melbourne Best Writing Award. He won Overall Best Book in the Commonwealth Writers' Prize 2009, was shortlisted for the 2009 Miles Franklin Literary Award, long listed for the 2010 Man Booker Prize and won the Australi ...more

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