The Slap Book reviews


Author(s): Christos TsiolkasDownload  


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 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.

Some Reviews: 3160 in


Ali rated it      

This was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Filled with despicable but ultimately somehow sympathetic characters, a microcosm of friends and family becomes a commentary on the social make-up of the city of Melbourne, the country of Australia, and perhaps the world. That the story is told from multiple perspectives but still chronologically (ie. the episode around which the plot is centred isn’t retold again and again) is genius and the complex, nuanced emotions of, reactions to and repercussions of a single event are ably described and brought to life by Tsiolkas. An uncomfortable but highly recommended read.

Banafsheh Serov

Banafsheh Serov rated it      

A group of people are gathered at a suburban Barbecue. During the afternoon an incident between one of the guests and a four year old result in consequences that directly, or indirectly, affect all who are present.

Told as a collection of short stories through the perspective of eight characters, all with different background, age, ethnicity and value systems, The Slap is a provocative, unflinching novel that explores our inner most beliefs and the conflicting issues we face. I enjoyed having a different portal in which the same situation has been explored. Hearing the different points of view shows there is no black or white situation – that our beliefs are a sum of all our life’s experiences.

The Slap is hands down my clear favourite amongst this year’s Australian fiction and if there is any justice in the world, the judges of The Booker & The Miles Franklin Award will agree.

H.A. Leuschel

H.A. Leuschel rated it     

This is a thought-provoking, bold and gripping read. The characters were challenging and multi-faceted because as the story progressed revelations about their past would make them appear in a different light and the motive of their actions would also alter the reader’s views about them. The descriptions of graphic sex scenes and an overuse of swear words spoiled it for me at times as I cringed or flinched trying to wade through explicit sections which in my view were not necessary and the crude language overly provocative. The book’s main premise though – a BBQ where an adult slaps another person’s young son – is a great idea for how an event can ripple through a group of friends and bring out their hidden animosities, their views on education and ultimately what they believe is the basis of moral behaviour. It’s a book that made me think and I think would make good bookclub material!


Felicity rated it     

The story begins with a slap–someone slaps a child that is not his (it’s a friend’s kid) at a backyard, suburban BBQ. The narrative, almost five hundred pages in total, spirals outwards from there. While the child’s parents report the assault to the police, there are a variety of reactions to “the slap” fueled by different loyalties and beliefs. But that is only half the story. The slap functions as a device to hold together what is really a sprawling narrative about desire. These desires are explored from the vantage points of about 10 or 11 different actors–each chapter or section of the book is devoted to a single person’s perspective, though the narrative is always moving forward.

The book is ambitious, extraordinary, and well worth reading (worth all the awards too). But I dropped it a star because there were places where the narrative almost ground to a halt it seemed so slow. Also, the sex and the drugs just didn’t do it for me–I found them a distracting feature of the narrative. While there were places where the drugs and the sex might have been relevant, I just wasn’t sure it was necessary all the time. Tsiolkas was making a point, I think, about the pervasiveness of drug culture–maybe I’ll just have to believe him, and accept that my distraction was actually discomfort.

Jen Jewel Brown

Jen Jewel Brown rated it     

Gritty and pungent from the first paragraph, this masterful dealing out of story fractured into many viewpoints is life as we know it today here in Melbourne, even featuring our local school Northcote High. He staggers me with how far he goes, taking broader Australian censorship modes to the top of the bestseller list with him. He loves those no holds barred sex scenes and writes them with skill and confidence. The casual sexism of many characters leaves me slapped on many pages, as does the omnipresent Madonna Vs Whore complex overlaying many attitudes taken for granted in both gender characters in The Slap. Nevertheless Tsiolkas creates an effortless ride for the reader, pulling you along for page after magic carpet ride page of the fallout from that politically incorrect first slap. The ending takes some liberties – resolutions a bit unbelievable here and there – but a minor quibble. Meaty read.


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