Ah it’s so tempting to throw in some slap-worthy puns when writing about Christos Tsiolkas’ The Slap. Oops yeah, that one slipped right by me!
This winner of the 2009 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize opens with a party at Hector and Aisha’s, which ends rather abruptly when Hector’s cousin Harry slaps a rather bratty four-year-old, the son of Aisha’s friend, Rosie. Rosie and Harry decide to press charges, and all of this kind of spirals out of control for a bit. The reader gets propelled through the book, through the story by different voices, including that of Harry, teenager Connie who works at Aisha’s office, Aisha’s other friend Anouk, Hector’s dad Manolis.
It’s a bit hard to properly describe The Slap, except that perhaps it is a look into the lives of contemporary Australians. And these are flawed, ordinary, everyday people, trying to go about their lives as best as they can. They are also really quite angry people. As a result, there is:
- prejudice and stereotypes
- some violence
- a lot of drinking
- drug use by teenagers
- quite a bit of sex (and some of it is rather ugly)
- and even more swearing
It is quite an unpleasant read, but I managed to make it through the end, despite some rather cringey bits and only ok writing. Not all books have to be pleasant and lovely, sometimes a bit of ugly is required, and The Slap is a lot of ugly. It is quite a bit to take in but it is also quite a book, with its portrayal of modern, suburban families in Australia.
Christos Tsiolkas’ works:
* Loaded (1995)
* Jump Cuts (with Sasha Soldatow, 1996)
* The Jesus Man (1999)
* The Devil’s Playground (2002)
* Dead Europe (2005)
* The Slap (2008)