I am used to sitting in Melbourne cafes with Christos Tsiolkas, although usually we meet for coffee and wine at a local bar. This time we are dining in a gastropub in Northcote; we both have the barramundi, which comes with chickpeas and a chorizo ragout, and I have a notebook in hand. As a friend I felt unable to review his book, but here nothing is off limits.
The conversation wanders; we have both been speaking at the Festival of Dangerous Ideas at the weekend, so there is the inevitable postmortem. But mainly we talk about Tsiolkas's latest novel, Barracuda, the story of a working-class boy who through failure has to remake his life. It sees the author return to themes he attempted in Loaded, his first novel.