An unsettling, brilliant novel about the truths and lies of mythology and history from the acclaimed author of The Slap. Isaac is a photographer in his mid-30, travelling through Europe. It is the post-Cold War Europe of a united currency, illegal immigration and of a globalised homogenous culture. In his mother's mountain village he encounters a Balkan vampire. Subsequently, as his journey continues across Italy, Eastern Europe and Britain he discovers that ghosts keep appearing in the photographs he takes, providing clues to a family secret and tragedy. Parallel to Isaac's story we are in the Greece of World War II. A peasant family is asked to provide protection to a Jewish boy fleeing the Germans. It is this boy who will become the vampire. From the mountains of Greece to the inner-city streets of 1960s Melbourne, we trace the journey of this malevolent force as it feeds on generation after generation of Isaac's family, seeking revenge and justice. From Christos Tsiolkas: 'In attempting to trace back through the mythologies, lies and truths of history, I want to examine how the legacies of the past still actively disturb our sleep in the present. Isaac's story is written in a contemporary idiom, in the first person, as he reflects on his alienation from Europe, on what it means to be an artist, to be a man in love, to be an ethical human in a supposedly post-ideological age ...I am also attempting to understand the longest standing of all European racial legacies: anti-Semitism. The vampire is not only the restless spirit of a dead boy. It is also the golem, the Christ Killer, the killer of children. It is this legacy that Isaac must face ...Now a major motion picture released by Paramount and Transmission films.
Winner of Age Book of the Year: Fiction 2006.
Vanessa writes: Tsiolkas' third novel is a contemporary gothic tale about a Europe haunted by communism and a family haunted by shame and racism. The novel is divided up in to two strands of narrative. The first follows Isaac, an Australian born photographer of Greek background whose photography is to be displayed at a gallery in Greece, as he travels to Greece and all over Europe. If you are expecting a pleasant picturesque tour of Europe, complete with romance, croissants and Tuscan villas, I suggest you buy a Lonely Planet. The post-communist Europe which Isaac observes is corrupt, bleak and depressing. It is a Europe occupied by jaded ideals and haunted by the spectres of communism. Isaac's travel journal describes a Dante-esque descent into madness and even vampirism. The second story starts about a hundred years earlier in a small Greek village and tells of the terror that washes across Greece in the wake of the Nazi invasion and the accompanying flowering of Anti-Semitism. Tsiolkas interweaves the two narratives superbly and his voice is as raw and brutal as ever. Although this is a disturbing and sometimes alarming novel, it is nonetheless a remarkable work of fiction from one of this country's finest authors.