The slap by Christos tsiolakas

This is Tsiolkas fourth novel ,he grew up in Melbourne in a greek family ,the book was longlisted last week for the 2010 man booker and was also shortlisted for the miles franklin ,The book centres on an incident at a family barbeque in the suburbs ,as a group of family and friend gather at Hector’s house for a relaxing evening when there is the incident of the title of the book a young boy Hugo is slapped by Hector’s cousin Harry .

He saw his cousin’s raised arm it spliced the air and then he saw the open palm descend and strike the boy .The slap seemed to echo .it cracked the twilight .The little boy looked up at the man in shock.there was a long silence .

The event view by Harry

The acorn for the idea came from an event Christos observed at a family event of his own and decide to write the book if the event had gone a different way than it had when he saw it .The story the fans out like a stone hitting the water the ripples of the slap are chronicled through the different guest and what happened after and before the event itself .The stories range from what happen to Harry and Hugo and his mother ,to adulterous affairs as we travel around the web of stories from the 8 characters that were at the barbeque  ,My feeling is the male narratives stand up a lot better than the female narratives which at times seem flimsy and one-dimensional ,the strongest being hector and Harry’s stories which are probably nearest to Tsiolkas himself .He is trying out an interesting style using a single event as a catalyst for multiple narratives ,trying to shed a light on the working blue-collar and immigrant community in australia ,which has been overlooked at times in Aussie fiction .If I had to describe the book like I was asked on twitter the other day ,I d say heartbreak high 10 years on made for late night tv .There is a lot of sex in this book and that was my greatest problem with it the females just seem like set dressing at times .The book is what I would call a classic booker shortlist book ,little avant grade ,slightly edgy .A wonderful insight into suburban life in australia .A writer to watch out for when he decides on a style that suits him .

Have you read it ,what did you think ?

August 2010


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