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Dead Europe

3.22  ·  Rating details ·  1,277 ratings  ·  155 reviews
Dead Europe sets sharp realism against folk tale and fable, a world of hauntings and curses against a fiercely political portrait of a society. The energy in the writing, the pure fire in the narrative voice and the fearlessness of the tone make the novel immensely readable, as well as fascinating and original, and establish Christos Tsiolkas in the first rank of contempor ...more
Paperback, 411 pages
Published 2008 by Vintage Australia (first published 2005)
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Average rating 3.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,277 ratings  ·  155 reviews

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Sean Kennedy
Jun 24, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This is the third book I've read of Tsiolkas', and it will most likely be my last. His books are so unremittingly bleak, but also done in such a way that they come across like a sophomoric I-hate-the-world-and-everybody-sucks mentality. Like he shuts himself in his room and screams "YOU JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND ME, OKAY?"

In his worlds, there is no good. And as a gay author and inclusive of gay characters in his text it often comes across like self-hatred - and even more so in this book populated by
JJ Marsh
Apr 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
I finished this book ages back, but needed to think for a long time about what it meant. For me, Dead Europe is both a fable, and an exorcism. There are so many layers of meaning here, it takes a while to digest. I find an anger in Tsiolkas's writing which echoes the anger of a teenager, slamming his bedroom door. It's a bellow of independence and a scream against influence, which cannot quite hide a familial affection. The dual narrative of Isaac and the magic realism storytelling of long ago r ...more
Kirsty Leishman
Apr 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Spit and shit, blood and urine, vomit and semen: there are an awful lot of bodily fluids in Dead Europe. Here Europe is not the contained and refrigerated anatomical specimen of the morgue, but a fetid, rotting corpse, dumped in a ditch, seething with larvae, oozing with saprophytes. It's pretty disgusting. And, as with Tsiolkas's other books, it puts many readers off. Is the detail Tsiolkas affords our everyday bodily functions necessary, or simply a vile mode of expression that betrays an ugly ...more
Aug 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a magnificent book. It made me weep. It also made me want to drop it half way through. It filled me with disgust, but then I realised was the book any less confronting (like these Hollywood movies that are made for PG rating to earn better bucks and thus failing to leave any mark in the history of cinema), would not deliver the message it was meant to. So, confronting, brutal, but also deep, touching so many levels that I need to read it again, because I feel that this first shock of the re ...more
Oct 20, 2013 rated it did not like it
I felt like I wanted to take a shower after reading this book. I have no problem with depiction of sex, be it hetero or homosexual. But this was gratuitous and taken to the extreme as a plot device, perhaps in the absence of being able to finish the story any other way. The final few chapters apparently the protagonist turned into a pansexual vampire, which wasn't necessarily presaged by the fact that his mother may have had some supernatural powers in a previous existence in Greece, before she ...more
Dec 02, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know how to rate this book. Did I enjoy it? No. Am I glad that I read it? Yes. I found the book profoundly disturbing. It's nihilistic description of the narrator's journey through Europe in contemporary times is interspersed with an almost mythical account of history, the two hurtling towards each other and merging at the end. I felt repulsed to the point of feeling nauseated but still could not stop reading. The shockingly stark view of racism, revenge, and (literal) bloodthirstiness m ...more
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I try to get my hands on books that step outside of mainstream likeability and hopefully lead me down the path of discovery about new Authors. This book was no exception. Christos Tsiolkas is totally new to me, and his Book "Dead Europe", while not wrapped in pretty bows, is a good enough read if you wish to see people, and Europe, from a different perspective; there were times where my mouth hung open as I read, and other times I shook my head in disbelief. Some books in my life have covered to ...more
Sep 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book was an unexpected page turner, and while it left me feeling somewhat unsatisfied (the bleak ending feels cynical, rather than justified), and the author's use of symbolism is occasionally heavy to the point of pendantic, I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for an unusual marriage of the social novel and the vampire novel. Telling twin, but ultimately conjoined narratives about a Greek woman's pact with the devil and her grandson's backpacking trip through Europe, this nov ...more
Nov 12, 2011 rated it it was ok
Christos Tsiolkas, hear this: Jeffrey Eugenides you are not.
I'm glad I read the Slap before this, or else I'd have never read anything by this guy again. Not that The Slap was great; but it was a decent read, good enough to keep me connected to the end. Not this one.
This book is all practice and no perfect. He tries too hard and there's very little substance behind it all. It's all been done before, and much much better. By, you know, Jeffrey Eudgenides, for instance. Or a gazillion other contem
This not a book for the faint hearted and while the "intellectual" may consider this an exciting work, for me it is profoundly disturbing. Anti-Semitism and graphic sex linked with superstition are intertwined with history and the present and the whole narrative strikes me as an autobiographical search for identity in a world where nothing is certain anymore.
Jun 05, 2012 rated it did not like it
Worse than The Slap, this novel is Tsiolkas' attempt at something like magical realism. Again all of his characters are drug snorting, racist mouthpieces who express sentiments that you'd never likely hear from the mouth of a real person. As the protagonist tours Europe and describes the penises of its citizens, he gradually breaks down into nothingness, rendering the novel pointless and the legacy of the past toothless.

Tsiolkas displays a nonsensical hang up on Judaism that is handled clumsily
Jul 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Thank god that's over with. While I'm sure it's very well-written- many people smarter than me have said so & I hold them responsible for me not just tossing it aside- I found it a test of endurance. There were so many grotesque scenes in this book that I would rather expunge from my memory. I believe that it's full of metaphors for the past sins of Europe- wars, genocide and the like, but in my ignorance, I found I was none the wiser. I did think there were some interesting comments on Greek so ...more
Nick Sweeney
Jul 26, 2013 rated it liked it
I enjoyed Tsiolkas’s The Slap very much. I liked its targeting of both the middle classes in general, and people who are precious about their dreadfully-behaved children. The Slap has an honesty about it that was very refreshing. Whatever else Tsiolkas may be, he is not a poseur of a writer – no self-aggrandisement, no self-conscious style-over-content – and writes things if not as they are, then as he sees them. And of course, the honesty is not enough on its own, and Tsiolkas is a very fine wr ...more
Sep 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The theme of the book is nicely summed up by Isaac when he comments: "... when we are tourists, we ony see that part of a city which has given itself over to the trade of travel."

Tsiolkas sends his protagonist on a meandering tour of Europe that attempts to embrace its ugliness, violence, hatred and bigotry.

Isaac is gay, and his moral denigration is symbolised by a descent into physical debauchery across the fleshpots of Europe that makes for very, very difficult reading.

Tsiolkas goes out of his
May 30, 2013 rated it liked it
This outrageous sleazy and at times confronting book fascinated me, but it was not enjoyable to read. I think perhaps I didn't understand it really.
The alternating stories of different generations of a family, was ok at first. The tale of life in the rural Greek village,from the early 20th century, was engaging.The story of the migrant descendants of the Greek peasants, in Australia post WWII began really well, but just disintegrated for me once the the young man Isaac,now an adult in the early
Claire Melanie
Aug 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
this book started off pretty well but towards the end it was so OTT with the gore and "reality" that it just got depressing. also the main character's total inability to deal with his obvious health/mental issues got frustrating as he chose simply to continually vomit everywhere, drink blood and fuck everyone he met. not much there to identify/empathise with. have read other christos tsiolkas books where i didn't like any of the main characters (the slap as case in point) but issac really annoye ...more
Randall Longmire
Oct 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
Ok, if you like your writing raw and confronting Tsiolkas is your man. A haunting return to Europe, a stalking demon and blood lust (the toilet scene on the train almost made me lose my breakfast) weave their way through your senses, strangle your sensibility, test your stamina and spit you out feverish and hungry for more.
Tsiolkas writes beautifully and I ask myself how much of this is biographical. Regardless it's an excellent novel that interestingly seems to draw some inspiration from Bram S
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book is like a stinking odor - it demands your attention and provokes a response, even if you find much of it offensive.

Tsiolkas draws together many different strands - the relationship between migrants and their children with their ancestral lands, commentary on 21st century Europe, anti-semitism, political ideology, the nature of religion and the decadence of contemporary sexuality - in a way that seems even more relevant today in the age of Brexit, the Greek economic crisis and Syrian re
Let me just advance a theory that Christos Tsiolkas went to Europe and came away a bit disturbed. His disturbance plays out in the novel, which has just been made into a film. The subject matter of the novel (racism, decadence, the shackles of tradition and myth) is pretty horrible and he (the writer) has not been able to manage this stuff at all well. This book is like roadkill. Horrible. No stars.
Oct 06, 2012 rated it liked it
still contemplating this one, far too much for my poor little brain
graphic, confronting, dark - wow, extremely
themes of our time, our world - lots and huge
supernatural - in there too
hatred, tenderness, love, murder, evil, demons, depravity, grossness, blood, soil, anti-semitism, superstition
no rating - i hated it and loved it
this is no simple book, this book continues to be in my head, not for its 'graphicness' but for its ideas
Nov 17, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Vincent Gulotta
Jan 16, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: aussie-crap

God is dead, Marx is dead, Greece and Europe are dead and Australia doesn't feel quite good either.

So, why is the book title Dead Europe? While the book doesn't lack of some narrative quality, its title implies analytical skills that Mr Tsiolkas really doesn't possess. He looks at an entire continent in in 400 pages and his glares are rushed and superficial.
There is a wide spread attitude in the Anglo-Saxon media that blights and belittles every positive thing done on the continent, an attitu
Sally Edsall
May 05, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I wrestled back and forth with this one throughout - masterpiece, or revolting, pretentious, unfocussed twaddle.

Parts of it were distasteful, sexual relations was brutal, and exploitative. But at least in the beginning there was a point.

There were some sublimely written passages. The "older story" set in just-post WW2 Greece was coherent, grounded - even with its (want of better phrase) magical realism.

Racism, suspicion, ignorance, stupid faith, anti-Semitism were well-written and coherent.

Aug 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
Imagine if Nick Giannopoulos and the team at Wogs Out Of Work decided to rewrite William Burrough's Naked Lunch. Well, this would be it. Tsiolkas shows us the Europe tourists rarely see - the dark, old, dead Europe behind the cheesy piazzas and museums.

Some people might find the prose style, and subject matter, confronting. Good. The darkness of people and places the protagonist encounters on his journey to discover his ancestral roots is balanced by the lyrically beautiful scenes of oral sex a
Jason Bell
Aug 31, 2014 rated it did not like it
For a novel so steeped in depravity and perversity, the success of the writing should depend on the author's ability to infuse some humour or wit (think "American Psycho") into the writing. Otherwise it is simply gratuitous. Christos Tsiolkas is so far up himself and takes himself so seriously, he is obviously incapable or unwilling to embrace such an approach.
Dave Di Vito
Sep 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
Probably my least favourite Tsiolkas novel in that I wasn't keen to continue along for the ride as it progressively disintegrated into its dark last acts. That said, loved the concept and love Tsiolkas' ability to frame the uneasy relationship between Europe and Australians of European descent.
Benjamin Farr
Mar 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtqi, 2019
A dark, disturbing yet incredibly insightful read from Australia's best living author. This book captivated me in a way that few books have, and took me on a journey that was at times confronting, often grotesque yet painfully sorrowful. 4.5 stars.
Dec 10, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is a rough novel. It portrays Europe in a very dark and grotesque way, but at the same time it makes Europe seem real, far from the images and ideas that we normally get from this place. It’s also a novel about religion and the damage it can inflict in people.
Richard Yaxley
My favourite Tsiolkas; powerful, raging, unforgiving, molten. An unforgettable read.
Sally Jane Smith
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book well deserves 4 stars but I give them with a warning: it's a brutal read.
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Christos Tsiolkas is the author of nine 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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