Book Review – The Slap By Christos Tsiolkas

The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

This is the first fiction book that I have read in over a year and it was great to get back into fiction with such a compelling novel. Thanks to my friend Deb who lent me this fantastic book!

The publisher describes The Slap as follows:

At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own.
This event has a shocking ricochet effect on a group of people, mostly friends, who are directly or indirectly influenced by the event.

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 book is set in Melbourne (my city!) and Tsiolkas describes parts of Melbourne so vividly that I can almost feel myself there. Within these Melbourne suburbs we gain an intimate view into the lives of these eight characters.

What I loved most about The Slap was the questions it made me ask myself:

  • Is it okay to slap a child? No.
  • Did I agree with the way the parents of the child handled the situation? No.
  • Does this make me a hypocrite? Not sure.
  • Am I the person who I wanted to be growing up?
  • Have I compromised some of my values to achieve the life have?

As we follow the story from each characters point of view, not only do we hear what they say, but what they wish they had said and what they really think on a realm of contemporary family and domestic issues. As can happen easily, we don’t always say what we actually feel or think.

The Slap is a provocative and challenging read and one that will stay with me for some time.

EDIT: I had pre-written this post last Friday and since then The Slap has been awarded the2009 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for South East Asia and The Pacific ($20,000) . Congratulations to Christos Tsiolkas.