The best-selling cult author of Loaded and Dead Europe here turns his blowtorch onto the belly of middle-class suburban Australia and its notions of child-rearing and acceptable behavior.
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 incident. 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 21st 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.
Winner, Overall Best Book the Commonwealth Writers' Prize 2009
Winner, ABIA Literary Fiction Book of the Year 2009 and Overall Book of the Year 2009
Winner, ABA Book of the Year 2009
Winner, ALS Gold Medal 2009
Winner, Victorian Premier's Literary Awards 2009
©2008 Christos Tsiolkas.; (P)2009 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
"With The Slap, Tsiolkas secures his place as one of Australia's most important novelists." (The Age)
When you begin to read a book, and you find that it is liberally splattered with a word that you find very objectionable, when the story seems to be meandering along at no great pace, and when, furthermore, the book treats with a group of characters who are, in this reviewer's opinion, with very few exceptions, a rather unpleasant bunch, it says something for the author's storytelling abilities that I became interested enough in these awful people to want to know what happened to them in the end.
So, here we have a gathering of family and friends at a barbecue given by an arrogant, lustful civil servant and his snitty veterinarian wife. During the barbecue, an unbearably bratty child provokes a fellow guest past endurance, and gets a slap. The resulting furore is told from the point of view of several of the people at the barbecue, whose lives seem to have been changed by this seemingly small incident.
On the book's pro side, the story is very well told, the characters are well drawn, and I was made to think about my own opinions and attitudes, which is always a good thing. The naration was also beautifully done indeed!
On the con side, If you're easily shockable, this is not the book for you. There is very strong language, including liberal use of the C word throughout, graphic sex and a bit too much info about bodily functions.
All in all, I'm glad I wasn't put off by some bad reviews, and tried it for myself. A good read.
My first audio book... now I'm hooked. A great book...very graphic at times, but well written and read, and true to life. I lived in Australia for a while, this book has brought back memories of characters and attitudes I had forgotten.
I hadn't expected the content to be what it is and the title does not give it away.
The story taken from different characters point of view offers a dynamic inspection of the situation arising from different expectations and attitudes towards societies modes of behaviour and deeply embedded social, political, cultural and class based beliefs.
There are shocks and giggles along the way. a great way to spend a half-hour journey from work...I don't mind getting stuck in traffic, in fact sometimes I hope for a hold-up!!
Would recommend to anyone who is not easily offended by swearing or descriptive sexual scenes.
I suppose the language could offend some but the characters are incredibly well drawn and their interactions give a vivid insight into life in contemporary, multi cultural Australia. Ramsay Street this is not! The issues tackled are many and complex but the skill of the story teller keeps you involved. Differences of attitude across generations underpin the narrative, be they attitudes to family, parenting, friendship or sex. The central event - the slap of the title is used as a device to explore the motivations of a diverse group of friends, all of whom seem to have some axe or another to grind. I thought that the writing was clever and perceptive, a contrast to the boorish behaviour of one or two of the characters.
I was bowled over by the TV adaptation, and after a break decided to try the book. As with the TV episodes I was slowly drawn further and further into the book as the chapters developed. I don't really understand the comments below about not liking the book because the characters aren't likeable. What marvels me about this book is its humanity. My initial judgements and prejudices against the characters were constantly undermined. The author helps the reader understand the characters, why they are the way they are, how they are trapped in, or fighting against deeply entrenched beliefs and attitudes of gender and ethnicity. I admire the way the author writes so convincingly from the perspective of three generations and makes the reader see how they are bound together whilst they struggle against each other. It is a fascinationg insight into multicultural Australian city life, surprisingly not as different from the UK as I would have expected. I have to say it's not a depressing read. It is humane, compassionate and very moving. I never found the descriptions of sex gratuitious and although I dislike bad language, I felt this is how the characters would speak. A rewarding listen.
The premise of the story was good and the first 2/3 was pertinent but then there was a lot of background and tangential stuff that didn't add to the story/plot or to the characters in a meaningful way. The men were all sexist and chauvanistic and the women were all co-dependent, even when they thought they were independent. The narrator was very good.
Heal With Steel
A challenging examination of the characters that lays open the frailties of the human condition but in the end does not pander to the stereotypes.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! The author created believable but intriguing characters and I couldn't wait to find out what happened to them all. Warning - the language can be shocking at times!
Saw this was long listed for the Booker. Read the 1st page in a book shop and thought it looked interesting. It wasn't. Felt no connection with any of the characters; the female characters are particulaly cartoon-like and all seem to crave sex at evry opportunity! The prose is laboured and it all seems very unimaginative and pointless.
I bought this as I was half listening to a review and it popped up while I was browsing audible. God it's boring. It's that petty minutiae of everyday life that can be made enthralling and fascinating by some writers rendered the most tiresome drivel. The only reason I'm still listening to it is because I have finished all my other audiobooks.
Very much like an Updike novel. I am indifferent to every character and reckon they could all do with a slap. The author is not stylish in his prose nor is he even that observant of domesticity. The sex/erotic scenes a particularly cardboardy.
I was very intrigued by the premise of this novel, but when I started listening it lost me almost at once. I persisted for a couple of hours but in the end I hated it too much to listen. There was not one likeable character, the story seemed sordid and pointless and the constant use of the most offensive (to most women anyway) swear word in the English language really irritated me. I recommend passing on this one.
"Didn't do it for me"
I just don't get what people went nuts for with this novel. I am the exact demographic of his characters, right down to location, and just found it embarrassing and sometimes loathsome. The sex scenes were gratuitous and constant, the characters unlikeable and the plot laboured.
The good things I can say about this book is that it did get a little better towards the end, that Alex Dimitriades did a great job with the character of Manolis, and that I liked Connie and thought her backstory was really interesting and well-drawn. But these few aspects weren't enough to make the world Tsiolkas created one I'd like to revisit.
While this title has sold well in Australia, I'm not sure that I understand why. The writer focuses on the worst of his characters' characters, descends into unwarranted crudity on a regular basis, and resolves few of its plotlines. If the virtue of this book is that it mirrors the messy realities of our own lives, why read about it? Books can do such much more.
I downloaded this book because of the upcoming TV miniseries based on it. I loved the plot premise -- that an action, in a nanosecond, has the ability to shake things up in such a huge way. What I didn't like was the lengthy explorations into the lives of characters who had little or nothing to do with the actual plot. I mean, how much do you need to know about the lives and history of the elderly aunt and uncle of the guy who did the slapping? Or the teenage boy who babysits for the slapped kid? It would have been more than enough to further explore the 4 or 5 characters who were directly involved in the plot line.
Yes. Because, again, I loved the premise and the writing was strong.
LOVED this guy. Took a little warming up but he really came through. His accents, his ability to segue into female and children's roles -- and he even had to sing in some parts! Really, really good. Compelling. And a beautiful Australian accent!
"Engaging book - reading a bit patchy."
I was impressed by this book. Tsiolkas' showed great insight into the prejudices and insecurities underlying the lives of 'everyday' people. The expanding and unexpected consequences of one spontaneous act upon the lives of many was well portrayed and the characters for the most part were well developed. There was a liberal use of crude language which may have been a bit overdone (because I noticed it) but overall it didn't spoil it for me (and I'm in my 60's). My one complaint was Dimitriades reading. He read it too fast! It took a while to tune in to his style and pace. While his 'Greek' voice suited the novel well, the fast pace sometimes led to lack of clarity when adjectives and other descriptors were elided and garbled. I felt like that he needed a bit more practice. If it had not been for that I would have awarded this 4 out of 5.
"An Uncomfortable Masterpiece"
If you are looking for a book offering up characters easily loved, quickly understood, and easily forgotten this book is not for you.
If you are looking for a story line that is gentle, offers hours of easy escapism, and a tidy ending this isn't for you either.
This book will make you uncomfortable, uneasy and often unable to dredge up any positive feelings towards the characters. You wil be emerged by the author in a story that won't resolve. But the author will take you on a ride. He will knock you around with this book.
It's a masterpiece.
"A perfect book for the strong of heart!"
If you want to read about real people in our contemporary world, this is for you. The author spares no aspect of the human condition. It's funny, profane, gritty, sad, depressing and uplifting all at once.
The narrator is fabulous.
""The Slap" is a misleading title!!!"
I loved the development of each character. I was completely enthralled with this book!!! Now I'll watch the mini series however I'm not expecting it to compare to this book.
I enjoyed the slap. It was interesting hearing everyone's perspective. I was a bit shocked by some of the behavior, but the book was well done. Intriguing and curious. It was easy to keep lustenibg. Wondering what was bext.
"It could have been so much more"
The gratuitous sex and masturbation scenes proved to be a distraction from the plot line. It got better as it went along but the most engaging moments of this book were around the actual event and the exploration of parenting ideals and entitlements that can result, which unfortunately were brief and lost in explorations of minor characters that didn't advance the plot. The crudeness of language and the scenes were off putting, but with deft handling could have done a lot to advance the story rather than detracting from it. I didn't really like any of the characters, which maybe was the point. The reader was good and the accents were interesting and proved to be a draw for me.
I was intrigued by the idea of this story but it seemed a lot of fluff was added and the vocal performance was just alright. I really wish the reader wouldn't try to sing along with the pop songs. That kind of ruined it for me.
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