AustLit logo


Issue Details: First known date: 2022... 2022 Barracuda’s Freak Bodies and Elite Swimming in Australia
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'This article considers the way in which elite swimming in Australia constitutes a system of identity to frame the privileging of heterosexuality, able-bodiedness and hypermasculinity in Christos Tsiolkas’s novel Barracuda (2013) and its television adaptation (2016). It argues that the two versions of the story offer very different sporting narratives: a migrant, working-class, gay body in the novel, the complexity of which is never fully realised on screen. The article shows how the television adaptation of Barracuda reshapes the novel’s atemporal structure into a linear progression of rise, fall and redemption, and that under these narrative conditions Daniel Kelly’s body becomes simply object, rather than embracing the subjecthood he is permitted in the novel. The effect is one of compulsory normalisation and erasure: of Danny’s queer body, of Dennis’s and Martin’s damaged bodies, and of the consequences of Danny’s criminal act. This process parallels similar attitudes towards Australia’s most elite athletes and the public ownership of their body narratives.' (Publication abstract)

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

  • Appears in:
    y separately published work icon Journal of Australian Studies Christos Tsiolkas and Contemporary Australia—The Outsider Artist vol. 46 no. 1 2022 24308385 2022 periodical issue

    'Christos Tsiolkas is regularly acknowledged as one of the most important writers working in Australia—indeed, the world—today. However, his proclivity for the public essay (in venues such as The Monthly), as well as his willingness to speak out on important social and political issues (such as refugees and marriage equality), casts him not only as an important writer, but also as a critical public figure in contemporary Australia. This collection of articles takes the range of Tsiolkas’s works (both fiction and non-fiction, as well as their television and cinematic adaptations) as their impetus, using these as a model to explore the significance of Tsiolkas’s intellectual contribution to Australian public life. As such, these articles work across genre, across theories, across national and international borders, and across disciplines in order to make clear Tsiolkas’s contemporary significance. Building on recent book-length studies on the author, including Andrew McCann’s Christos Tsiolkas and the Fiction of Critique: Politics, Obscenity, Celebrity (2015) and my own Christos Tsiolkas: The Utopian Vision (2017), what these articles hold in common is an assertion that Tsiolkas’s fiction and non-fiction always and everywhere serve a political and social purpose. As I have argued elsewhere, Tsiolkas’s writing ultimately suggests the ways in which we can shape a better future for Australia.' (Jessica Gildersleeve : Introduction: Christos Tsiolkas and Contemporary Australia—The Outsider Artist)

    pg. 98-11
Last amended 6 Apr 2022 09:20:23
98-11 Barracuda’s Freak Bodies and Elite Swimming in Australiasmall AustLit logo Journal of Australian Studies
  • Barracuda Christos Tsiolkas , 2013 single work novel
  • Barracuda Belinda Chayko , Blake Ayshford , 2016 series - publisher film/TV
    Powered by Trove