Sunday, September 6, 2009

BOOK: The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas, 482 pages

Book Award III Challenge: Commonwealth Writers' Prize, 2009

At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps child who is not his own.... says the cover, and it certainly enticed me into the world of suburban, modern Melbourne with this interesting cast of characters. The structure of the novel itself was more like eight short stories, as eight different characters take turns with their story (not in first person though). I say eight short stories because the focus shifts dramatically as the narration changes, and in different chapters the 'slap' has varying degrees of effect. In some ways, the slap isn't even that important, it just provides the plot point to connect the characters over the course of the year.

The characters are very real, very flawed, and no one is a hero. Extra marital affairs abound, (with some pretty descriptive passages, a caution for those who don't enjoy that), lots of drug use, bad decisions, and prejudices against immigrants. I quite enjoyed the look into Australian life, the ties between family, the loyalty among friends. This would be a fun book for a book group as everyone would have different opinions as to who was wrong or right in many different situations.


  1. I agree - this book would be perfect for a book group! As long as they are very tolerant of sex, bad language and violence then this book makes a great talking point.

  2. Sounds like an interesting idea! "A man slaps a child who is not his own" totally flashed me back to when I was a little kid - remember how scary it was when other people's parents fussed at you for something?

  3. I've added this to my wishlist thanks to your review :) . It definitely sounds interesting. The plotline is shocking but very inticing.

  4. jackie - I liked how most of the characters said that no child should be slapped, but then in the next breath, if ever a kid needed a slap it was that kid. Each character did things that could be debated, and then you could rank them in order of how terrible they and their action were,..

    jenny - the book is so much more than the slap, it's really just a slice of life in Australia, with the slap event as a connector.

    ceri - I'll look for your opinion of the book once you've read it.


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