Merciless Gods (2014) is Christos Tsiolkas’s only collection of short stories and arguably his least discussed work to date. Comprising stories that Tsiolkas published in various literary magazines and anthologies as early as 1995, Merciless Gods is persistent in its fixation on the relationship between queer desire, identity, and disgust. Throughout the collection, characters are frequently exposed to the bodily discharges that most of us tend to dissociate from, cringe at, and conceal from one another: sweat, semen, odor, and excrement. Characters also blurt out vile homophobic and racist bigotry in impulsive overflows of speech that bring about release and disgust at the same time. In this article, we read the spasmic (in all its forms) as a liminal space of joy and repulsion that constitutes what we call Tsiolkas’s politics of disgust. We argue that disgust is crucial to Tsiolkas’s deeply humanist and densely historical project, best exemplified in Merciless Gods in the ways that form—short fiction and the collection—arouses distinct feelings in readers that they cannot escape and that Tsiolkas’s work refuses to gloss over. In this way, Merciless Gods testifies to Tsiolkas’s compulsive return to fundamental questions of justice and distribution of misery and well-being.
Allahyari, Keyvan and Sumner, Tyne Daile
"The Politics of Disgust: Form and Feeling in Christos Tsiolkas’s Merciless Gods,"
Antipodes: Vol. 35:
1, Article 7.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/antipodes/vol35/iss1/7