Nick Sweeney's Reviews > The Slap

The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
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's review
Jan 10, 2012

liked it
Read in May, 2011

I don't think I'd have bought this if I hadn't seen it in a charity shop. An annoying kid gets slapped at a middle-class barbecue in Melbourne (and not by one of his parents), and the novel examines the repercussions from the points-of-view of different characters who witnessed the act. Most of the people Tsiolkas features are, to my mind, rather obnoxious, which is the author's point, I think. So first of all it's a real feat to engage readers with a novel that, for quite a way in, has no redeeming characters at all. I think CT is a writer of great skill, in getting us examining the seemingly trivial catalyst in such depth. It's a long old haul, at nearly 500 pages, and I felt at times that it could have been done much more economically, but then some of the characters' back-stories require quite a lot of detail, or we'd have little idea of who they are and how they came to be at the barbecue. I most enjoyed the passage featuring the older generation of Greeks; it revealed a peek at the clash of civilisations you perceive in the book, of modern versus traditional ideas, of entrenched races and more recent immigrants to Australia. I'll be interested in seeing what his other books are like. I felt immersed in Australia for a week, having just read My Life As A Fake - good!

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