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The Slap (2008)

by Christos Tsiolkas

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,1961385,448 (3.26)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 126 (next | show all)
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 |
I loved this book! I have read many derogatory reviews here, and it reinforces to me that it does present a sort of 'harsh reality' in its depiction of middle class life in the suburbs. It is not flattering, but neither do I think it to be grossly unrealistic; it doesn't sugar coat anything, and it doesn't shy away from anything, it simply says it as it is. I think it is a brilliant, insightful piece of work, albeit, not for the faint hearted. Then again, if you are going to shy away from the issues of domestic violence, infidelity, homosexuality, narcotics, etc, you are probably exactly the audience Tsiolkas is looking to reach.

Below is a review I had to write for academic purposes, I thought i'd include it as a matter of interest:

'The Slap' is a depiction of contemporary life in suburban Melbourne amidst the clamour and grind of suburban domesticity. It is essentially a book about the chasm between political correctness and reality: multiculturalism in it's true form as a digression from John Howard's 'white Australia' paradigm. It provides a critique of this whilst making concession for the diverse array of Australian multicultural life: new age lifestyles, diversity, multiculturalism, marriage, adolescence, homosexuality, religion and politics. It is centered around a conflict between second generation Greek Australians and white Anglo-Saxon Australians as they struggle to find common ground after the incident of the 'Slap' at a family BBQ (whereby an adult slaps a child which is not his own). The division of loyalties is somewhat exacerbated by the characters' varying definitions of family, parenting and morality; and is reified through suburban distinctions. This supports Turner's view of the politics of urban development between suburbs: that inner suburbs prices are inflated by the rich getting richer (an effect of globalisation) forcing the working class out to the suburbs (p. 569), and resulting in unprecedented cultural changes. Harry, (the perpetrator of the slap) is a successful businessman living in the wealthy inner suburbs, who "can't stand the fucking Western suburbs" (Tsiolkas, 2008, p 108) and views Gary and Rosie as "scum" and "vermin" (p 161), "the types who will be renting all their lives" (p. 152). Gary is a failed artist, alcoholic, and a degenerate, married to Rosie, who hides from her failures behind her spoilt son Hugo (the victim of the slap). They eventually move out of Melbourne altogether, to the rural areas, further exemplifying Turner's political and economical suburban division.

Tsiolkas, C 2008, The Slap, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW.

Turner, G 2008, The cosmopolitan city and its Other: the ethnisizing of the Australian suburb, Inter-Asia cultural studies, vol 9, issue 4, pp 568-582. ( )
  NickCosta | Jun 17, 2020 |
Having sat on my to-read shelf for years, I took this on a plane trip recently. I expected to leave it abandoned in my seat pocket for another person. Instead I found it hard to put down.

The premise of the story would never happen in reality – at a party of adult friends and their children, Hugo, a four year old, goes to wack another child with a cricket bat and the father of the target stops this happening by slapping Hugo on the face. The parents of Hugo insist on police involvement and the police take it to court. Because there is so little crime in Australia, that this stands out as a good use of police time and court resources. Not. It just wouldn’t happen.

But let’s pretend it could, because it makes for a great story, as the relations between the various adults are tested by the way in which Hugo’s parents behave and expectations by all concerned. A story gripping enough that not only was an Australian TV series made, but the US made its own – I’m almost curious to see what they did to it. Every main character in the story is ghastly. I’m truly impressed with the author’s ability to make such a readable story out of such shits as they all are. Young and old, they are all materialists whose high points are buying clothes, getting haircuts, drinking and drugging, getting bikini waxes and making entrances. The women are ghastly, the men, the Australians, the Indians, the Greeks, the young, the old. But having said that, the fact is that they are all utterly ordinary. People muddling through life in a self-centered – I, closely followed by my family, are what matters – way.

rest here: https://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpress.com/2018/07/27/the-slap-by-christos-tsio... ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
Having sat on my to-read shelf for years, I took this on a plane trip recently. I expected to leave it abandoned in my seat pocket for another person. Instead I found it hard to put down.

The premise of the story would never happen in reality – at a party of adult friends and their children, Hugo, a four year old, goes to wack another child with a cricket bat and the father of the target stops this happening by slapping Hugo on the face. The parents of Hugo insist on police involvement and the police take it to court. Because there is so little crime in Australia, that this stands out as a good use of police time and court resources. Not. It just wouldn’t happen.

But let’s pretend it could, because it makes for a great story, as the relations between the various adults are tested by the way in which Hugo’s parents behave and expectations by all concerned. A story gripping enough that not only was an Australian TV series made, but the US made its own – I’m almost curious to see what they did to it. Every main character in the story is ghastly. I’m truly impressed with the author’s ability to make such a readable story out of such shits as they all are. Young and old, they are all materialists whose high points are buying clothes, getting haircuts, drinking and drugging, getting bikini waxes and making entrances. The women are ghastly, the men, the Australians, the Indians, the Greeks, the young, the old. But having said that, the fact is that they are all utterly ordinary. People muddling through life in a self-centered – I, closely followed by my family, are what matters – way.

rest here: https://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpress.com/2018/07/27/the-slap-by-christos-tsio... ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
Having sat on my to-read shelf for years, I took this on a plane trip recently. I expected to leave it abandoned in my seat pocket for another person. Instead I found it hard to put down.

The premise of the story would never happen in reality – at a party of adult friends and their children, Hugo, a four year old, goes to wack another child with a cricket bat and the father of the target stops this happening by slapping Hugo on the face. The parents of Hugo insist on police involvement and the police take it to court. Because there is so little crime in Australia, that this stands out as a good use of police time and court resources. Not. It just wouldn’t happen.

But let’s pretend it could, because it makes for a great story, as the relations between the various adults are tested by the way in which Hugo’s parents behave and expectations by all concerned. A story gripping enough that not only was an Australian TV series made, but the US made its own – I’m almost curious to see what they did to it. Every main character in the story is ghastly. I’m truly impressed with the author’s ability to make such a readable story out of such shits as they all are. Young and old, they are all materialists whose high points are buying clothes, getting haircuts, drinking and drugging, getting bikini waxes and making entrances. The women are ghastly, the men, the Australians, the Indians, the Greeks, the young, the old. But having said that, the fact is that they are all utterly ordinary. People muddling through life in a self-centered – I, closely followed by my family, are what matters – way.

rest here: https://alittleteaalittlechat.wordpress.com/2018/07/27/the-slap-by-christos-tsio... ( )
  bringbackbooks | Jun 16, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 126 (next | show all)
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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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