The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas | Book Review

Hey Sweeties,

As I have mentioned before in previous book reviews and/or book related content on here, I purchase 99% of books second hand, mostly in charity shops. The Slap I had seen everywhere to the point where I started to get curious, and I’m sure I heard the end part of a review on the radio about it which brought my attention to The Slap in the first place. So one day, I decided to give in to my curiosity.

As usual, we begin with the blurb:

At a suburban barbecue one afternoon, a man slaps an unruly boy. It’s a single act of violence. But this event reverberates through the lives of everyone who witnesses it happen.

The Slap by Christos Tsiolkos

In chapter one you are introduced to Hector and his family who are preparing to host the BBQ where ‘the slap’ takes place. What I will say about this chapter is so many characters got introduced as they turned up to Hector’s house, that it was quite hard to follow who was who and their connection to Hector/his family. But you soon realise that each chapter corresponds to each character of any importance who each move the story along which I thought was quite clever.

However, while the concept of the story is clever and as a reader you feel involved because of course you too have an opinion on both the issue of children being disciplined physically, as well as who of the character’s position themselves similarly. Overall I really disliked how a lot of the book was written, mostly with the language used to describe people and situations. I am sure it isn’t the case but at some points I wondered if the way a few of the characters spoke about other cultures and types of people, it was the author’s true voice hiding behind them? Again some of the language just made me a bit uncomfortable and I won’t be the only one to feel this. The word ‘wog’ particularly was used throughout which upon a quick Google, does reference it as a slang Australian English term used as ‘an ethnic or racial slur and considered derogatory and offensive’ although the word’s connotations have relaxed somewhat in recent years. Everything was written in context to the characters and various discussions but I do just wonder if it was really necessary.

I also hate to say what I am about to say, but I am going to have to say it… you can tell the book is written by a man. It is notoriously difficult to write accurately from the perspective of the opposite sex and I applaud anyone that achieves this, but there is often a distinct difference between how a woman writes about a man/men, to a man writing about a woman/women. When I was away for the weekend at the Formula One British Grand Prix recently (post here), this book became a bit of a running joke because I complained at the amount of sex and sexual references were dotted throughout, at one point it seemed every other page. As a teenager, this is exactly the type of book I would have wanted to read but as a woman nearing (frighteningly) to thirty, unless sex is written with a maturity to it, it’s all just so seedy and cringing and this is very much the case in The Slap. For example (please feel free to jump this paragraph):

Hector was now a jackhammer, slamming into her, she was full of him, as much in her belly as in her c****, she buried her face into the coverlet, her outstretched hands were clutching at the sheets, the fabric coiled around her fingers; she wanted him to fill her completely. He was smashing into her, tearing her apart, destroying her and putting her back together. She was crying from the pain and from the relief” (Tsiolkas, p376-377).

For some context, this scene was between a married couple of 19 years, both in their forties, who had been away from each other for a week. All I am saying is that in other novels, the author just notions that the couple are about to make love, or will write about the situation tastefully, letting the reader imagine any additional detail should they so wish. So you can see what I mean here about it all being a bit cringe, and quite honestly, a bit ridiculous!

Overall I think I would recommend the book because I think the concept alone makes for an interesting story that will intrigue a lot of people, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. I think it’s going to be one of those books you have good expectations for in the beginning, but will deteriorate quite quickly, but that’s okay, that’s just how it is and it’s boring to only read things you’re going to love every time. This book in parts is so bad, that it’s actually funny.

Have any of you guys read The Slap? Thoughts?

Until next time x


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