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The Slap: A Novel Paperback – February 22, 2012
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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 --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
“Tsiolkas is a hard-edged, powerful writer….The novel transcends both suburban Melbourne and the Australian continent, leaving us exhausted but gasping with admiration.”
“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.”
“Radiates with vitality as it depicts the messy complications of family life.”
“Complex and multilayered. …intertwined lives and slowly revealed connections make for a singular reading experience.”
“Wildly energetic and fearless, thrillingly about our lives now.”
— Helen Garner, author of The Spare Room
“A gripping suburban fable.”
“Strikingly tender . . . it claws into you with its freshness and truth.”
"The Slap tells a layered, briskly paced story about complex people. Think Tom Wolfe meets Philip Roth. Or The Sopranos meets The Real Housewives of Orange County"
“Brilliant, beautiful, shockingly lucid and real, this is a novel as big as life built from small, secret, closely observed beats of the human heart. A cool, calm, irresistible masterpiece.”
— Chris Cleave, author of LITTLE BEE
“A novel of immense power and scope, reminiscent of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections and Don DeLillo’s Underworld.”
— Cólm Tóibín, author of BROOKLYN and THE MASTER
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Top customer reviews
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.
The Slap is not about corporal punishment but about the ideals and values of modern Australian society. Tsiolkas uses the slap as a catalyst to examine how tolerant or intolerant of differences Australians are and the picture he paints is not pretty.
The characters are all irredeemably flawed. There is no hero in this book - just real people living in a new world that terrifies them. Some readers might find these despicable characters unpleasant and the offensive nature of some of the scenes hard to get through. I didn't find any of the vileness to be gratuitous but viewed it as a call to action from Tsiolkas.
A call to action to properly address all the hidden yet simmering prejudices against people who are different from us. Tolerance and pleasantries only intensify hate and acceptance and understanding are sorely lacking. I found this book to be a blunt and much needed criticism of the world and people today.
If you are curious about looking at a slice of another culture that itself is multicultural, you might find this book quite readable. What is most interesting about the book is that every character is flawed, and most, if not all aren't very nice people. They are all struggling with life, with their individual situations in life, and sometimes with each other, and for that one can recognize and extend a real measure of sympathy to them. There are types rather than stereotypes in the novel whom local readers can readily identify. The grandfather is the most likable character, yet even he has ghosts in his past that follow him into his present. Raw and real.
I came into this book wanting one thing; an examination of the idea that someone had slapped someone else's child, and the ramifications of that. When the book dealt with that, it was riveting. Unfortunately the author was constantly wandering off to describe the sex lives and drug-taking behavior of the parties. I didn't find this contributed to the story or the characterisation; dull and unnecessary.
There was a side story about a teen boy struggling to come to terms with his sexuality, and his feelings for an older, straight, married man. This was a moving, worthwhile story, but again it distracted from the Slap. Should have been saved for its own book.
Most recent customer reviews
It's got swearing, drugs, sex. It's got children and adults behaving badly.Read more