Christos Tsiolkas is probably best known for his novel The Slap. Here, however, I want to recommend his third novel Dead Europe, my favourite of all his books. Not only is the narrative layered with all the mysterious and atmospheric veils of a myth, but it pulls the reader into a rippling search for place and timely-location. As a young man, a photographer, goes on a trip through Europe, he must come face to face with the claws of his past and the way in which they have been worn down.
It is the undercurrent of life that Tsiolkas is interested in: the roof-top chats, the ugly outskirts of Paris, the lonely barren insides of a Greek café. Energetically brutal while engagingly normal, Tsiolkas is a writer who excoriates the personal, sometimes to unbearable depths.
Eerily, Dead Europe has the feel of a prophetic missive, a kind of current dystopia. But what’s most arresting about this novel is what lingers, that of a bitter sweet reminder that the human experience is at the behest of historic whimsy. And the pain to understand our location in the world is often packaged in brutal truths.