He was born and grew up in Melbourne and was educated at Blackburn High School and the University of Melbourne where he completed an Arts Degree in 1987. He edited the student newspaper Farrago in 1988.
Tsiolkas' first novel, Loaded (1995), was filmed as Head On (1998) by director Ana Kokkinos, starring Alex Dimitriades. In 2006, his novel, Dead Europe, won The Age Book of the Year fiction award. In 2009, his fourth novel, The Slap, won the Commonwealth Writers Prize 2009 for best novel in the South-East Asia and South Pacific area.
He is openly gay, and a Richmond Football Club supporter.
Authers, Ben. "'I’m Not Australian, I’m Not Greek, I’m Not Anything': Identity and the Multicultural Nation in Christos Tsiolkas’s Loaded". JASAL: Journal of the Association for the Study of Australian Literature 4 (2005): 133-146.
Caņadas, Ivan. "A Sin That Dare Not Speak Its Name: Class and Sexuality in Christos Tsiolkas’s Loaded and Anna Kokkinos’s Head On", Overland 177 (Summer 2004): 43-7.
Caņadas, Ivan."Exhuming History: Neo-Conservatism and Christos Tsiolkas’s Dead Europe (2005)". Cultural Logic: An Electronic Journal of Marxist Theory and Practice (2007)
Dowse, Sara. Review of Dead Europe. "Blasphemous, Disturbing and Brilliant". The Canberra Times (18 June 2005): 13.
Hunn, Deborah. "'It's not that I can't decide; I don’t like definitions': Queer in Australia in Christos Tsiolkas's Loaded and Anna Kokkinos's Head On". Territories of Desire in Queer Culture: Refiguring Contemporary Boundaries. Ed. David Alderson & Linda Anderson (Manchester & New York: Manchester UP, 2000), pp. 112—29.
Joseph, Laura. "'Gardening in Hell': Abject Presence and Sublime Present in Dead Europe and The Vintner’s Luck". JASAL, Special Issue: "The Colonial Present: Australian Writing for the 21st Century". Eds. Gillian Whitlock & Victoria Kuttainen (2008): 105-13.
Manne, Robert. Review of Dead Europe. "Dead Disturbing: A Bloodthirsty Tale that Plays with the Fire of Anti-Semitism". The Monthly (June 2005): 50—53.
McCann, Andrew, Jeff Sparrow and Christen Cornell. "The Spectres Haunting Dead Europe". Overland 181 (2005): 26—31.
McMahon, Elizabeth. "Lost in Music". Meanjin 2 (July 2000): 166-177. [Essay on music and dance in Loaded and Head On].
McQueen, Humphrey. "Dead Europe . . ." Book Talk (Interviewed by Jill Kitson) Radio National (2 July 2005)
Rosenblatt, Les. Review of Dead Europe. "A Place Where Wolves Fuck". Arena 79 (2005): 46—48.