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The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
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The Slap (original 2008; edition 2008)

by Christos Tsiolkas (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,0041294,971 (3.26)256
Member:JESGalway
Title:The Slap
Authors:Christos Tsiolkas (Author)
Info:Allen & Unwin (2008), Edition: First Edition (5th printing), 485 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:Australian Fiction, Familial drama

Work details

The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (2008)

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» See also 256 mentions

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This event has a shocking ricochet effect on a group of people, mostly friends, who are directly or indirectly influenced by the slap.

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 commitment and happiness, compromise and truth.
  JESGalway | Feb 11, 2019 |
Reading this alongside the justifiably acclaimed TV adaptation has been a fascinating experience. The television series is one of the great joys of 2011: exceptionally cast and beautifully directed, presenting eight individual stories which take eight very different people living in suburban Melbourne, and show us their hopes, dreams, fears and regrets. Yet, each of the stories fits snugly into an intriguing sociological story about the uneasy alliance of so many different lifestyles that exist in the modern city, all seen through the prism of one, simple action: the slapping of one woman's child by another man at a family barbecue.

Tsiolkas' novel is, of course, the origin of all of these stories (and the series' ability to be both remarkably faithful yet evolve into its own beast entirely is one of its many strengths), but I daresay this is one of those rare occasions where the adaptation outweighs the source material. Don't mistake me: I understand why the book caused such a stir. The basic issue of 'the slap' just cries out for debate, and his contrasting of the various lives - the ageing, ghetto-ised Greek immigrants; the struggling white trash/bohemians; the upwardly mobile adult children of immigrants; the inner-city hipsters - reasonably calls into question our notion of Australia, and Melbourne, as a multicultural utopia. And each of the eight stories that make up this novel works well enough on their own.

However, I found Tsiolkas' prose to be surprisingly workmanlike. His method of character creation is observational, but also comes about through simple sentences listing the features and beliefs of his characters. All of the characters are inherently believable, certainly, but never does the writing style rise above 'clunky'. Characters leave rooms yet somehow are there pages later; fights become friendships with no logical reason (of course, the nature of long-term friendship allows this, but as an author, you have to SHOW us, not TELL us!). Problems of self-doubt, particularly through the eternally-fascinating masculinity complex among Greek-Australians, are marvels for actors to play with - look at Alex Dimitriades and Lex Manolis in the TV series - but on the page, they just come across as tawdry cliches. (And the less said about some of the women, the better. Again: not the characters, just the way their internal paradoxes are conveyed.) I'm not sure if this is emblematic of Tsiolkas' general style, but it disappointed me, I must say.

Still, I don't mean to damn the man. While I don't think he's a very good writer in a technical or artistic sense, his ability to see the differing points-of-view of each character is quite impressive, and it's no surprise to me that the novel fared so well when placed into the hands of some of Australia's best writers, actors and directors. As a Melbournian, I've very much enjoyed recognising myself and those around me in his characters and locations. I adore my city for its many, often diametrically opposed, viewpoints, and The Slap reminded me of just how precarious such a social paradigm can sometimes be. It's a novel whose issues and characters will resonate with me for a long time to come. It's just not a very well-written one. ( )
  therebelprince | Oct 30, 2018 |
So apparently this is a hugely controversial addition to the Booker longlist, and some people are very upset it was included.

I think it's one of the best books I've read this year. I expected it to be a sort of Tom Perrotta/Jodi Picoult mashup, but it isn't like that at all. It's character-driven and really very well-written. I particularly liked the Manolis chapter, which I found wistful and bittersweet. Very well worth reading if you have time for a 480-page book. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
At first, I was not very impressed with the writing style, apparently long listed for the Man Booker prize 2010, I was not surprised it wasn't shortlisted. However the more I read, the more the book grew on me, the more I could empathise with the characters, the more I thought the author was showing real insight and was worthy of his literary honour.
I liked the way it told the story by devoting a chapter to telling the story from a particular character’s perspective, handing on the batton of the storytelling rather than retelling the same episode.
Overall I think the book is an interesting and entertaining read. The book examines different portions of Australian society; gives an insight into the way different age groups view life and seems quite realistic in its portrayal of characters and their relationships e.g. Ritchie's awkwardness and embarrassment over his sexuality; Hector and Aisha’s holiday argument.
WARNING: There are lots of references to sex and drugs. The drugs culture is treated as matter-of-fact without any judgement and as if there are no bad consequences. ( )
  NeilT | Mar 1, 2018 |
5490. The Slap, by Christos Tsiolkas (read 1 Aug 2017) This is an icky, repulsive novel laid in Melbourne, Australia. A man slaps a 3-year-old brat who certainly deserves reprimanding. This slap takes place at a social gathering and the parents of the brat call the police and there is a court proceeding--apparently all the evidence is hearsay presented by the police [who were not present at the incident] and the adult slapper is let off with a reprimand. This infuriates the parents who want everybody to be on their side and who hate anyone who isn't. There are lots of other happenings, with overly explicit sex episodes narrated apparently to appeal to voyeurs. If the book is indicative of the high school drug and sex scene in Australia one can only despair of the kids and parents who tolerate such immoral behavior--but there is no indication that any character in the novel has any sense of sin or belief in any standard of morality. I could not be "for" any character and found the book trash. ( )
  Schmerguls | Aug 1, 2017 |
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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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At a festive barbecue in the Melbourne suburb a man slaps the child of another couple, triggering a court case and a variety of confrontations within the lives of the the families and friends present.

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