Merciless Gods by Christos Tsiolkas
I often feel that reading Christos Tsiolkas is like going into battle – a battle against your own prejudices, biases, inhibitions and hidden fears. His seventh stand-alone novel, Merciless Gods is a series of fifteen magnificently crafted short stories. Author of multi ward winning, Loaded, Dead Europe, The Slap and Barracuda, amongst others, many of his books are centred in middle class Melbourne. However, despite any preconceptions you may harbour about Australia being an equalitarian society, he is particularly adept at peeling across it’s dark underbelly to reveal ugly racial and class divisions. Merciless Gods continues this theme, but also explores the insecurities arising from moving from being to teenager to an adult, friendship, love betrayal and of course his recurring theme, sexuality.
Each story is like a small stand-alone novel, perfect and complete, but with enough depth to leave you gasping at times. ‘Petal’ is a fine example of this. Set in an Australian prison, an inmate is tipped over to breaking point. While it is far removed from most of our realities, the story feels raw and real. Other stories are set in a more familiar urban landscape, a social dinner party in the opening title Merciless Gods, or a mother’s dilemma in Sticks and Stones.
Review by Nicole @ Great Escape Books