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 event. 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 loyalty and happiness, compromise and truth.
MY REVIEW (MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS)
This is another one of those books where I let myself get sucked into the hype. Luckily, I always passed it by in the bookstore and ended up getting it through the library (I’m still having a hard time remembering how great the library is—free books to read!). I am so thankful I didn’t end up buying it. It was not worth the hype.
First things first, Tsiolkas does not know how to write an intriguing character. Every.single.character in the book is exactly the same. They all talk the same, and it’s like they’re all sleeping with each other. The story is only partially about the slap that occurs at a barbecue, and the rest of the book is about these awful relationships between oddly-similar characters.
The thing I just didn’t understand about this book was that the child is slapped on the butt. He’s not beaten, he’s not hurt in anyway. The kid just suffers from coddling parents who don’t discipline him in any way. So he’s a complete brat! In a society where people seem to be against disciplining their children in any way, The Slap seemed to feed the thought that kids should be able to do what they want.
No, I don’t believe in beating your child, but there should be time outs, your child should know who’s boss. I would be absolutely appalled if I attended a function with my (nonexistent) child and they behaved like an absolute monster. Remember the phrase, “Just wait until your father comes home!”? Whatever happened to that? From what I see nowadays, kids get away with anything. There’s no discipline. There’s nothing to say to them “You shouldn’t do this!”
Tsiolkas writes very unlikeable characters—to put it simply, I didn’t like anyone in the book. There was also a lot of unnecessary swearing (seriously?? I have a hard time believing that every.single.character swears that often) and a lot of sex. At times is was downright offensive.
If you must read this book, do what I did and get it from your local library. Don’t bother wasting your money.