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 ?

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14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Book Whisperer
    Aug 02, 2010 @ 21:28:08

    I haven’t read it Stu, but I do want to. It intrigues me so I do think I need to get myself a copy. Will let you know if I read it.

    Reply

  2. Sarah
    Aug 03, 2010 @ 09:07:10

    I haven’t read it either Stu, but my interest was piqued when it made the Booker and now I’ve read your review it’s swayed me to get a copy. Will let you know what I think.

    Reply

  3. Sarah
    Aug 03, 2010 @ 09:44:51

    I have been wanting to read this since a fellow blogger reviewed it some time ago. The first review I read was quite different to yours, so now my interest is further piqued to see which one I agree with most. Thanks for a fascinating post.

    Reply

  4. amymckie
    Aug 03, 2010 @ 11:43:18

    This sounds like an interesting book though I’m not sure if it will be one that I enjoy. I have my doubts. It is on my tbr pile though and I was planning to read it later this month when I get back home.

    Reply

  5. farmlanebooks
    Aug 03, 2010 @ 14:32:15

    The Slap is the most male book I’ve ever read. I did enjoy it, but did find there was an excessive amount of sex and masturbation!! I’m not sure this will make the short list, but I’ll be interested to find out!

    Reply

  6. Lija
    Aug 03, 2010 @ 19:37:27

    This is one of the ones I plan on reading. A little wary about the comments you make about females as set dressing though, and farmlane calling it “the most male!” Guess I’ll have to find out what that means 🙂

    Reply

  7. Violet
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 03:49:50

    I started reading this, but didn’t get far. I just couldn’t get interested in it. I liked Tsiolkas’ first book “Loaded”, but he kind of lost me after that with “The Jesus Man”. Tsiolkas used to be a pretty big name in ‘multicultural writing’ in Australia, but as the focus on the Greek disapora has been displaced by sucessive immigrant communities, he’s comsidered more mainstream now, I think. I’m surprised that “The Slap” has done so well, and might have to give it another try some time.

    Reply

    • winstonsdad
      Aug 04, 2010 @ 21:07:41

      some books seem to catch the zeitgeist the slap seems to be on of these ,maybe its the looking a familys in our fractured society that appeals ,all the best stu

      Reply

  8. Tom C
    Aug 04, 2010 @ 07:25:07

    Thanks for the review – I am about to read this one and am looking forward to it

    Reply

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