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The Slap: A Novel Paperback – April 27, 2010

3.0 out of 5 stars 282 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Although this is Australian author Tsiolkas’ fourth novel, it is the first to be published in the U.S. With its raw style, liberal use of profanity and racial epithets, and laserlike focus on the travails of suburban life, it is a down-and-dirty version of Tom Perrotta’s best-selling Little Children (2004). At a barbecue in a Melbourne suburb, a man loses his temper and slaps the child of the host’s friends. This incident unleashes a slew of divisive opinions, pitting friends and families against each other as the child’s parents take the man to court. Told from eight different viewpoints, the novel also deftly fills in disparate backstories encompassing young and old, single and married, gay and straight, as well as depicting how multiculturalism is increasingly impacting the traditional Aussie ethos. For good measure, the author also throws in male vanity, infidelity, and homophobia. Tsiolkas’ in-your-face style is sure to alienate some readers—the child’s parents, for example, are among the book’s most unlikable characters—but his novel, which won the 2009 Commonwealth Prize, fairly radiates with vitality as it depicts the messy complications of family life. --Joanne Wilkinson

Review

“Tsiolkas is a hard-edged, powerful writer….The novel transcends both suburban Melbourne and the Australian continent, leaving us exhausted but gasping with admiration.” - Washington Post“This astute exploration of suburban aspirations and failings . . . . vividly demonstrates the wide-ranging effects of a single moment’s rash decision. . . . Beyond simply igniting the plot, the fateful slap draws attention to generational and philosophical differences regarding family life and the complex political, social, and ethnic milieu of contemporary Australia.” - Publishers Weekly“Radiates with vitality as it depicts the messy complications of family life.” - Booklist“Complex and multilayered. …intertwined lives and slowly revealed connections make for a singular reading experience.” - Library Journal“Wildly energetic and fearless, thrillingly about our lives now.” - Helen Garner, author of The Spare Room“A gripping suburban fable.” - Men’s Style
“Strikingly tender . . . it claws into you with its freshness and truth.” - Sydney Morning Herald
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Reprint edition (April 27, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143117149
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143117148
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (282 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #478,005 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Paperback
I read constantly. I read for information, for enlightenment, for pleasure. I read anywhere from 2 to 5 books a month, and have for some 45+ years. Never have I been moved to find a forum in which to voice my complete amazement with how utterly awful a book has been.

I was excited, as I often am, when I saw this title. As a person who shamelessly admits to sometimes judging a book by it's cover, I own to liking the look of the book, and the title just jumped out at Me. "The Slap"... Intriguing. The synopsis -- Someone slaps a child who is not their own... Oooh..., you've got Me.

A more apt title would have been "Slaps All Around", which is what I wanted to do to every character -- AND myself -- less than 40 pages in. If this author won an award that wasn't presented by his mother after a panel of close family members voted on a ballot with this single book as the entry, then I am stunned.

How can the entire premise of a book play such a minor role in the ENTIRE BOOK!? How do you manage to write a story with so many characters telling "their story" from multiple vantage points, and yet do so in such a way that the reader cares about NONE of them -- not the children, not the adults, not the seniors, not the dead, not the dying... No One. I, literally, got up from reading this book, logged onto my computer, and sought out reviews because I wanted to make sure I wasn't somehow missing something. I needed reassurance that my reading tastes had not all of a sudden left Me, and I couldn't recognize a good story, or good writing when I read it! And, by the way, for those who felt that this author was a "good writer" -- Read more.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Personally, I think much of the negativity is a result of the raw language that runs through much of this novel. I bought it when I was in Melbourne and went to the State Library. I asked the guy running the bookstore there to recommend a fiction book that would show some insight on Australian culture. This one does that in a way that may be offensive to some because every sin you can imagine and a lot of bad language runs through the book. It is wise to note that Australians (especially working class Australians) do overuse curse words in a way many Americans would find offensive. I do not claim to be an expert with two (albeit much more lengthy and intense than normal) trips down under. However, much of what Tsiolkas has to say could easily apply to the American family. The high divorce rate, stress, lack of jobs for those without fancy educational credentials (and lack of jobs for those with them), breakdown of religious strictures, etc., is in the US as well as Australia. This book has a lot to say about Australian culture--and perhaps American culture as well. It is provocative and you should read it. The book has been highly received in Australia--and there is a reason for that. It has a lot to say. So, ignore the language you don't like and go and read it.

I only write reviews occasionally (although I read at least 100 books a year). I felt compelled to put this one up when I saw all the negative opinions here. This book may be a watershed. A must read for sure.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was drawn to this novel after watching the first two episodes of the NBC television version, and before deciding to purchase it, I read about half the posted reviews. "The Slap" is one of those books that readers claim to love or hate. It focuses on Melbourne's large Greek community and tells the story of an incident that happened at a birthday BBQ and its aftermath as experienced by eight of its central characters - all whom are affected by the incident in different ways. In that sense, the novel has eight protagonists.

A guest at the BBQ, Hector, slaps a small, dangerously misbehaving child, Hugo - enraging Hugo's parents and setting off a chain of events that changes the lives of many of those present. Many of the other reviewers were put off by the author''s "gratuitous" use of sex throughout the novel as a mechanism for moving the plot forward. I was, as well. In fact, after a couple of chapters, I found myself skimming through the crudely drawn sexual episodes and the over-abundance of "c*nt" and "f*ck" and just getting on with the story. And it's a good one because it describes, better than any novel I've read recently, the effect that judgment and greed and jealously and anger have warped our modern day lives.

As you can see by the reactions of many of the reviewers, "The Slap" is a book that invites the reader's judgment of its characters, and one that also invites us to forgive them as we begin to understand the motives behind their actions. As I read through this book, I found myself. again and again, returning to earlier chapters as I began to see the characters in a new light. The Slap is a book I'll read at least once more.

I'm giving the book four stars because of my reaction to the author's overuse of crude sexuality and because the story redeemed it. Normally, I would have put the book down after two or three chapters, but the story propelled me forward through my desire to understand the characters more fully.
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