Christos Tsiolkas and the Ghosts of our Past
Taylor Johnson, Heather
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With the arrival of his first novel in 1995, Loaded, Christos Tsiolkas became a voice for a new generation of Australians. The book's main character, Ari - later made into the flesh by actor Alex Dimitriades in the film adaptation Head On - represented a young, gay Greek Australian man, angered by classism and racism to the point of self-destruction, and confused with his place in the world that surrounds him. This character would be reborn in many other men in Tsiolkas' books, as would these themes become the crux of his work. His other novels include The Jesus Man (1999), Dead Europe (2005; winner of The Age Book of the Year), The Slap (2008; winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award, longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and adapted into an award winning mini-series) and his latest book Barracuda (2013). He is a multi-talented writer with an autobiography and book of essays to add to his collection, as well as 'playwright' and 'screenwriter' to add to his list of titles. Often referred to by literary critics as our most controversial writer, Christos Tsiolkas lays bare what it means to be Australian, and in this interview I revisit what for me is his most controversial book, Dead Europe.