Kevin Power

‘Everything was bile’

The Jesus Man

By

Atlantic Books 186pp £8.99 order from our bookshop

Christos Tsiolkas likes to write about sex. His sex scenes are uniformly grim. ‘He was murdering her, cutting her, fucking her, hurting her. He farted and the room smelt of his acrid shit. He jumped into her, a machine, and he came in a spasm: groans, the kicking back of his body, a tremor throughout. The woman quickly moved away from him, turned and carefully took the condom from his now embarrassed dick.’ That’s Tsiolkas all over: the sledgehammer prose, the unrestrained nostalgie de la boue. He revels in bodies and their secretions: ‘His cock was wet, pink’; ‘The boy’s pale arse, the shock of red halo around the swinging balls. The quick ugly flash of his daughter’s thickly black snatch’. I won’t go on. But Tsiolkas does. After a while you start to feel sorry for his characters. Don’t any of them ever have a good time in bed?

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,
    • 'The heroic male nude could not, I think, be used today to signify civic pride and glory', as Michelangelo’s 'David… ,