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The Slap (2008)

by Christos Tsiolkas

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,2721405,873 (3.25)265
At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own. In this remarkable novel, Christos Tsiolkas turns his unflinching and all-seeing eye onto that which connects us all: the modern family and domestic life in the twenty-first century. The Slap is told from the points of view of eight people who were present at the barbecue. The slap and its consequences force them all to question their own families and the way they live, their expectations, beliefs and desires. What unfolds is a powerful, haunting novel about love, sex and marriage, parenting and children, and the fury and intensity - all the passions and conflicting beliefs - that family can arouse. In its clear-eyed and forensic dissection of the ever-growing middle class and its aspirations and fears, The Slap is also a poignant, provocative novel about the nature of loyalty and happiness, compromise and truth.… (more)
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» See also 265 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 129 (next | show all)
This is the first time I’ve ever not finished a book, and I’ve read some utter rubbish. But I was so bored and all the characters were tedious yet also boring. ( )
  MrLloydSpandex | Sep 30, 2022 |
Nice characters, I felt like the author had a good insight into what motivates each character and the ultimate resolution was satisfying as well.

Not the 'must read' that people might tell you but very satisfying and outside my usual genre of sci-fi fantasy. ( )
  benkaboo | Aug 18, 2022 |
This is a disgusting and strange book about disgusting and strange people doing horrible things, including arguably sexually abusing a four-year-old as a vengeful act against their spouse because the spouse is still breastfeeding the four-year-old for no stated reason, leading me to think it's a sexual thing. Disgusting. The part about the slap and its consequences take up less than ten percent of the book. The other ninety percent is dedicated to gratuitous sex scenes as eveerrryyonnne cheats on one another at least once, sexual abuse of minors and everyone THINKING ABOUT EVERYTHING, and NOTHING HAPPENS IN THIS. Apparently there's a Netflix whole series about this book over multiple episodes. Corporations really will make shows out of everything. I want the brain cells I wasted on this book back. ( )
  iszevthere | Jul 27, 2022 |
A choice for my then book club.

I don't know how to rate this book or whether to recommend it to others.

It is extremely readable, in the sense that once you commence, it runs away with a life of its own and its constant change of narrator drives the narrative forward. which is just as well, given its 570 or so pages, and for some readers, the (seemingly) irredeemable morals of some (most) of the people who populate this novel.

Many are extremely self-centered, to the extent that if that has adverse impacts for others, including close family and friends, so be it. Personally, I don't accept that as a valid description of the the current Australian diaspora, nor that of the time this was written (copyright 2008), but I don't pretend to speak for the whole of Australia.

I was expecting something different with the book. I did not read the book when it was first published, but do remember the advertising of the TV adaption, which made a lot of 'whose side are you on' - that in the context of the titular 'slap' itself.

The slap was a father, at a family /wider friends BBQ, slapping a young boy - 5 years or thereabouts (not his own) who was perceived as threatening his own child, rather than taking other action or requesting the assistance of the boy's own parents to intervene, notwithstanding they were present and close by.

Many present quickly took sides, and the disagreement ended in court proceedings, never a place to be if seeking to settle personal (rather than purely legal) issues.

And whilst a lot of the book continued with the immediate fallout of 'the slap', it really used that as a starting point to consider the interactions between all and sundry on all matters (well beyond those immediately centered on 'the slap'. And the book never really resolved 'the slap'. Notwithstanding there was a legal outcome, such is usually not a resolution on any other ground.

Perhaps the TV adaption took the book a little away from where the original focus of the book was aimed or perhaps I was simply distracted.

The interpersonal interactions (particularly the hypocrisy and self centered (particularly as to the sex) attitudes of many of the characters also left me somewhat cold.

So as i say, I don't know how to rate or recommend this much discussed and at times highly commended novel of recent Australia.

Perhaps you need to read it for yourself and decide.

Big Ship

25 April 2022
  bigship | Apr 25, 2022 |
I had to force myself to finish this novel, as it was tedious in the extreme. Despite an interesting plot in which one character chastises a badly behaved child and the impact of this behaviour on the other adults in the group, the plot quickly fell apart as the writer concentrated on the most unsympathetic characters I have ever encountered. By the end of the book I wanted to slap them all myself. A complete waste of good reading time. (less) [edit] ( )
  dolly22 | Jul 9, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 129 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (24 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Christos Tsiolkasprimary authorall editionscalculated
Schweder-Schreiner, Nicolai vonÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Heyne (43727)
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At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own. In this remarkable novel, Christos Tsiolkas turns his unflinching and all-seeing eye onto that which connects us all: the modern family and domestic life in the twenty-first century. The Slap is told from the points of view of eight people who were present at the barbecue. The slap and its consequences force them all to question their own families and the way they live, their expectations, beliefs and desires. What unfolds is a powerful, haunting novel about love, sex and marriage, parenting and children, and the fury and intensity - all the passions and conflicting beliefs - that family can arouse. In its clear-eyed and forensic dissection of the ever-growing middle class and its aspirations and fears, The Slap is also a poignant, provocative novel about the nature of loyalty and happiness, compromise and truth.

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Although this is Australian author Tsiolkas’ fourth novel, it is the first to be published in the U.S. With its raw style, liberal use of profanity and racial epithets, and laserlike focus on the travails of suburban life, it is a down-and-dirty version of Tom Perrotta’s best-selling Little Children (2004). At a barbecue in a Melbourne suburb, a man loses his temper and slaps the child of the host’s friends. This incident unleashes a slew of divisive opinions, pitting friends and families against each other as the child’s parents take the man to court.
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