101 of 111 people found the following review helpful
A sharp slap against middle class life
, August 21, 2010
This review is from: The Slap: A Novel (Kindle Edition)
This book has occasioned a lot of controversy with many people thinking that it is misogynistic. It's overly simplistic to see this story as full of misogyny, but even if the charge held, novelists are under no obligation to be politically correct.
This is in many ways an old fashioned novel. It has a beginning, middle and an end.
Christos Tsiolkas is giving us his version of social reality and satirizing the concerns of the middle class of the 21st century. Maybe there's more cursing and sex than readers of literary novels like, but it's not gratuitous cursing and sex. It does contribute to the picture he paints of his characters. The men and women are ambivalent about one another. The characters are not always easy to like, but Mr. Tsoilkas helps us understand them.
I found Rosie, the indulgent mother of the 4 year child that is slapped, only too believable. Her child menaces an older child with a baseball bat and later in the novel spits on an elderly man out of pure malice and--that most insidious of 21st century diseases--entitlement Yet Rosie oblivious to her son's faults, is walking around with dirty hair explaining to a friend that she and her husband are trying to teach him about water conservation. But I felt sorry for her as well. She is isolated from her narcissistic mother and overly protective of her difficult husband and her young son, but enraged when her friends seem to favor family loyalties over loyalty to her.
One of the more sympathetic characters in the book is Manoli the elderly uncle of he man who delivers the slap. Manoli struggles to understand why his daughter-in-law would side with Rosie, rather than with her family. Manoli has seen great upheaval and spends one afternoon burying an old friend The scene at the house follow the funeral was one of my favorites It was filled with such warmth and regret. While talking to the widow, he hears that other friends have been largely reclusive since their son was shot and killed by drug dealers
After he visits this family and sees an elderly friend wasting away from lung cancer he is saddened that his own children's lives seem to be focused on petty concerns and that they have no conception of what is important in life.
Mr. Tsiolkas also deals with issues of multiculturalism, class, how people make their marriages work and how they raise their children The kids from broken homes--Richie, a young gay man reared only by his mother and Connie, Richie's best friend, who lives with her single aunt are the most appealing of the children.
Henry James urged the novelist to `try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost.'
Mr. Tsiolkas is no Henry James. The Master would never write such graphic sex scenes or use such profanity, but very little seems to be lost on him and the book is dense enough to be worth re-reading.
This novel has aroused some real emotion and anyone whose writing can get people talking--no matter how bitterly--is not to be dismissed.
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