CHRISTOS TSIOLKAS Atlantic Books £ 12.99 – Short Stories From the bestselling Australian author of The Slap and Barracuda comes this intense, disquieting and somewhat shocking collection of short fiction that grabs you by your sensitivities and squeezes. Merciless Gods is a twisted, dark and brilliant assortment that variously explores violence and desire, racial hatred and nationalism, alcoholism and abandonment, misconnection and loss, profane and spiritual longing and what can happen when increasingly uncomfortable people speak without thinking. There are stories about a mother compelled to be cruel to her son and a rather unforgettable bonding moment between a father and son. Although it may not be to everyone’s taste, this is a highly rewarding, diverse yet unified collection delivered with great insight, poise and control. Twisted but brilliant.