He was born and raised in Melbourne with his Greek immigrant parents, and was educated at Blackburn High School. Tsiolkas completed his Arts Degree at the University of Melbourne in 1987. He edited the student newspaper Farrago in 1987.
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 and was adapted into a film, in 2012. 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. The Slap has been turned into both an Australian and U.S. television miniseries. Barracuda was adapted for television in 2016.
- Loaded (1995)
- Jump Cuts (with Sasha Soldatow, 1996)
- The Jesus Man (1999)
- The Devil's Playground (2002)
- Dead Europe (2005)
- The Slap (2008)
- Barracuda (2013)
- Merciless Gods (2014)
- Who's Afraid of the Working Class? (with Andrew Bovell, Melissa Reeves and Patricia Cornelius, 1999, adapted for film as Blessed)
- Elektra AD (1999)
- Viewing Blue Poles (2000)
- Fever (with Andrew Bovell, Melissa Reeves and Patricia Cornelius, 2002)
- Dead Caucasians (2002)
- Non Parlo di Salo (with Spiro Economopoulos, 2005)
- The Hit (with Netta Yashin 2006)
- Thug (with Spiro Economopoulos, 1998)
- Saturn's Return (2000)
2006 "The Hit" Parallelo Theatre
- The Guardian, Saturday 10 July 2010: "Christos Tsiolkas, whose parents emigrated from Greece..."
- Agent Details www.austlit.edu.au. Retrieved 22 July 2007.
- Head On at the National Film and Sound Archive colsearch.nfsa.afc.gov.au. Retrieved 22 July 2007.
- 1998 Telstra Adelaide Festival www.adelaidefestival.com.au. Retrieved 22 July 2007.
- Watts, Richard (3 July 2005), "A fortunate son", The Age, retrieved 19 August 2007