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The Slap

3.23  ·  Rating details ·  28,982 ratings  ·  3,364 reviews
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 slap.

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 cent
Hardcover, 485 pages
Published October 11th 2008 by Allen & Unwin Australia
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Daniel Bebber The book does the job that the author wanted it to: he wanted to expose the grim selfishness of the (Australian) middle class.
" The slap that I wanted…more
The book does the job that the author wanted it to: he wanted to expose the grim selfishness of the (Australian) middle class.
" The slap that I wanted to deliver with that book was to a culture in Australia that had literally made me sick, sick to the stomach. A middle class culture that struck me as incredibly selfish and ungenerous … I wanted to try and write a book ... that represented that culture. And to do that, honestly, I had to put myself in the middle of it. I also had to put my Greekness in the middle of that book. Because I didn’t feel separate from the things that were disgusting me.

Christos Tsiolkas, Journal of Intercultural Studies 2013"(less)
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.23  · 
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 ·  28,982 ratings  ·  3,364 reviews

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Paul Bryant
Sep 08, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: novels, worldlit
Thank you Christos Tsiolkas... you finally made my mind up for me and I have flung your horrid novel away from me in a graceless convulsion which mixed repulsion and depression in equal parts, with a dash of glee.

Because for many pages I was desperately seeking a casus belli. Something I could put my finger on. I was a closet Slap-hater at this point. I couldn't quite admit the horror of this novel to myself. I needed to find something definite, a line in the print where I could say

thus far an
Jessica Bell
Aug 02, 2010 rated it really liked it
This isn't any old review. My opinion on this book has sparked an idea for a discussion I'd like to have with you about offensive content in novels. I'd like to know how you react to it. But first, let's get to my review of this book.

This book was written by a very highly acclaimed Australian/Greek author. I have to say, that I admire him and his blatant honesty. And this is the first book I've read of his. I find it hilarious how so many people who have read this book have given it bad reviews
Jul 12, 2010 rated it did not like it
I read constantly. I read for information, for enlightenment, for pleasure. I read anywhere from 2 to 5 books a month, and have for some 45+ years. I was excited when I first saw this title, as I am one who shamelessly admits to ofttimes judging a book by it's cover. I own to liking the look of the book, and the title just jumped out at Me. "The Slap"... Intriguing. The synopsis -- Someone slaps a child who is not their own... Oooh..., you've got Me.

A more apt title would have been "Slaps All Ar
Patrick Johns
Jul 20, 2010 rated it did not like it
I do not consider The Slap to be a great piece of writing - I feel it was created to provide mass appeal. I found the quality of writing a little patchy, and in places offensive.

The basic premise is an interesting one - the "incident" at the party and how it affects the lives of the people involved, which in turn leads to a description, history and character study of a group of loosely interrelated people. The big moral question of whether the actions and reactions following the "Slap" were ne
Dec 23, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read this book a few years ago and thought I would write a review as I recently watched the US TV mini series based on the book. I also watched the series a couple of years ago that was filmed in Australia. I love the fact that Melissa George was cast as Rosie in both versions.

First off, I hate this cover. The one I have is a bit different. I just don't like seeing a child on the ground obviously upset and crying.

When I picked it up in the bookstore and read the back I thought the premise wa
Having seen this spoken of so highly and having read the initial idea of how one instant can change so many lives i thought i'd give it a try. i was disappointed. Tsiolkas has an appalling view of humankind.

The way people think of each other and treat each other and stick with each other for the most ludicrous of reasons in his universe is depressing in the extreme. The characters are all either racist, sexist, drunken or sluts or indeed, in a few cases, all of the above.

The idea of tracing the
At a suburban barbeque, one slap will change the lives of these people. Christos Tsiolkas unflinchingly looks at domestic life in the Australian suburbs in the twenty first century. The slap and its consequences cause everyone to question their own families and the way they live, their expectations, beliefs and desires. A gripping novel of loyalty and happiness, compromise and truth from the very start to the end.

You’ll either love it or hate it; Christos Tsiolkas’ controversial novel The Slap i
Dec 27, 2010 rated it did not like it
I positively HATED that book. I only finished it, because when I start a book, well I just finish it.
First of all... Language. There is at least one occurrence of the word “fuck” “fucking” or even “cunt”... I am no prude, but in this case, it was way too often, and totally unnecessary. That was one of the first thing that ruined this book for me. Especially when you have the 70 something greek granddad, talking to his long lost friends and saying” hello you cocksucker”... totally unrealistic and
Feb 12, 2015 marked it as never


So I've heard a lot this morning from various MEDIA OUTLETS about this 'Merkin show based on an Australasian show based on this novel based on the movie Precious based on the novel Push by Sapphire.

All the descriptions say it's about a rugged individualist, a "self-made man" who slaps some dumb grimy hippies's's kid after that kid is swingin' a bat around recklessly at a birthday party/neighborhood cookout/commie picnic/wobbly parade combine
May 10, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This was one of the best books I've read in a long time. Filled with despicable but ultimately somehow sympathetic characters, a microcosm of friends and family becomes a commentary on the social make-up of the city of Melbourne, the country of Australia, and perhaps the world. That the story is told from multiple perspectives but still chronologically (ie. the episode around which the plot is centred isn't retold again and again) is genius and the complex, nuanced emotions of, reactions to and ...more
I've never been to Australia. My knowledge of Australia is based entirely on several books both historical and fictional, a conversation with an Australian work colleague who informed me that "No, she could not bring me back a bush-baby" (apparently they're native to continental Africa, not Australia - who knew?) and many many episodes of Neighbours and Home and Away. If this book was my only source of information regarding the denizens of Australia I'd definitely be striking it from the holiday ...more
Jan 09, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017
Dnf @ 31%

Sometimes only a proper English phrase will do:

The whole lot of them can bugger off!
Stephanie Patterson
Aug 26, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book has occasioned a lot of controversy with many people thinking that it is misogynistic. It's overly simplistic to see this story as full of misogyny, but even if the charge held, novelists are under no obligation to be politically correct.

This is in many ways an old fashioned novel. It has a beginning, middle and an end.
Christos Tsiolkas is giving us his version of social reality and satirizing the concerns of the middle class of the 21st century. Maybe there's more cursing and sex than
Alyssia Cooke
Aug 20, 2011 rated it did not like it
I seriously need to stop impulse buying. I also need to start ignoring three for two offers. In addition I need to read the first couple of pages before buying instead of just relying on the book cover. My brother can get away with that kind of behaviour, I can’t. I just end up with tat, as this purchase once again showed. However, my best defence against buying this sort of tat is to stop wandering into Waterstones to ‘have a look around’. That is the most lethal mistake I can ever make. I can’ ...more
Having sat on my to-read shelf for years, I took this on a plane trip recently. I expected to leave it abandoned in my seat pocket for another person. Instead I found it hard to put down.

The premise of the story would never happen in reality – at a party of adult friends and their children, Hugo, a four year old, goes to wack another child with a cricket bat and the father of the target stops this happening by slapping Hugo on the face. The parents of Hugo insist on police involvement and the po
Aug 17, 2012 rated it did not like it
The word c**t and completely emotionless/hate-filled sex plus casual drug use does not make a story either good, controversial or interesting. There feels like there is only one character in this book, but it assumes different ancestry and genders. Just one hate-filled, drug and alcohol-fuelled zombie, playing all the parts. I hate this book, hate it, hate it, hate it, if I could unwrite it, I would. Books don't have to be angel sparkles, ginger beer and licky happy dogs, I don't mind anger/hate ...more
I’m probably one of the few people in my group of friends that actually finished this book. I don’t think I have ever read a book that has left me with such raw and mixed emotions before. I was totally drained! There were at times when I wanted to fling the book against the wall in utter disgust and there were others where I felt such sympathy for the characters inner turmoil that I wanted to embraces them and tell them it was all okay. This was a very hard book to read. But the thing I really l ...more
Banafsheh Serov
Jan 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A group of people are gathered at a suburban Barbecue. During the afternoon an incident between one of the guests and a four year old result in consequences that directly, or indirectly, affect all who are present.

Told as a collection of short stories through the perspective of eight characters, all with different background, age, ethnicity and value systems, The Slap is a provocative, unflinching novel that explores our inner most beliefs and the conflicting issues we face. I enjoyed having a d
Rebecca Alcazaze
Oct 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The cover asks ‘whose side are you on’ and having finished it I found that no one involved in this plot is either fully justified or blameless.

The split narratives offered such a variety of perspectives and points of empathy that I found it a pretty thought provoking text in terms of my own initial judgements. That said, I do wish there had been a bit more of a ‘comeuppance’ for some of the characters (although I’ll admit this could have resulted in an ultra-cheesy, justice-laden ending). Manoli
Sean Kennedy
Aug 06, 2009 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 21, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Hated this book. Really hated ALL the characters in this book. I'm probably being a little too harsh to give this one star since I somehow managed to finish the book. The subject was interesting, but I just didn't like it.

The author seemed like he wanted to push every button he could and go extreme with it. The book touches on racism to the point where it's cringe worthy, using every kind of racist comment or stereotype it can. It's very misogynistic, making every man in the story come off as so
H.A. Leuschel
Jun 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a thought-provoking, bold and gripping read. The characters were challenging and multi-faceted because as the story progressed revelations about their past would make them appear in a different light and the motive of their actions would also alter the reader's views about them. The descriptions of graphic sex scenes and an overuse of swear words spoiled it for me at times as I cringed or flinched trying to wade through explicit sections which in my view were not necessary and the crude ...more
n* Dalal
Jul 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
The Slap is about New Australia, an uncomfortable country of people living the direct contradiction between the white western world and an immigrant life; a fractured country where class, religion, and all those other big ideas break friendships and families apart.

But this book is also about the small things, the tiny lines people draw, the boundaries we fret over and keep us safe. Christos Tsiolkas explores the ideas that create generational difference. In a lot of ways, I intimately understand
Aug 01, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Good - An easy enough read with interesting topics of debate (whether it's appropriate to hit a child, fidelity, drugs), and a modern/diverse cast of characters. I read somewhere that it's like a long episode of neighbours,but souped with with lots of swearing... pretty accurate.

The Bad - The title of the book. The opening chapter - characters are introduced at a very fast pace so you've not a clue who is who. Language used isn't amazing, cliches, lots of pointless swearing (Too much use of
Spirited Stardust
Oct 07, 2010 rated it did not like it
I had hoped a book as popular as this was popular because it was good - I was wrong.
This novel places its merits on its characters, not on its writing or even its ability to tell a great story. I found none of its characters interesting or worthy to read about. Manolis was perhaps the only character I began to warm to, but as soon as I did, like every other character, a sordid, sexual deviancy was thrown in.
And then there was the character of Richie, who was not only boring, but whose chapter in
Mar 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, underrated
A man at a weekend barbecue slaps someone else's child in anger, and the act reverberates through his circle of friends and family.

I'm a bit mystified as to why this book has such a low rating here on Goodreads. But there were a couple of things I really admired about the book; uncoincidentally, those same theories might explain why some people seemed to dislike the book so much.

First of all, Tsiolkas takes a nonjudgmental attitude toward his characters. They not only do things we probably don'
Simone Ramone
Mar 08, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: australian, book-club
I was really looking forward to this book, but although I'm not certain whether I found it engrossing or just gross.

There were a few things I liked about this book, sadly they were not related to any of the main characters.

The story of the slap itself is nothing and my interest in the principle players was almost nothing as well.

However, some of the sideline characters were great, but that actually only served to frustrate me more.
This book was written about the wrong people. WHY would he want
Amanda Ravenscroft
Mar 16, 2011 rated it did not like it
From very early on I just didn't care about any of the characters, they were all awful!! I finished it, but hate that I wasted my time on this book and these horrible people. ...more
Aug 09, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bought-copy, literary
The Slap is a novel looking at a cross section of Australian life by taking the viewpoints of eight characters, all whom were present at the BBQ where the eponymous slap took place. Hector is first up, a Greek bureaucrat, married to Indian Aisha but considering an affair; then Anouk, a hard Jewish writer who cannot see the problem with hitting a child - and, in general, has no understanding of, or liking for, children; Harry is next - Hector's hot-headed cousin who delivered the slap. Connie is ...more
Sharon Robards
Why no rating?

This is the type of book which makes me greatly dislike the rating system. In my opinion it isn’t the worst of books nor the best of books. But, I almost didn’t get past the first chapter, and then found myself skiming here and there from the third or fourth chapter. Each of the 8 chapters were told from a different POV, so a rating seems a little unfair as perhaps I missed some defining moment in what at times seemed to be much to do about nothing, but an injection of a lot backs
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Christos Tsiolkas is the author of nine novels: Loaded, which was made into the feature film Head-On, The Jesus Man and Dead Europe,which won the 2006 Age Fiction Prize and the 2006 Melbourne Best Writing Award. He won Overall Best Book in the Commonwealth Writers' Prize 2009, was shortlisted for the 2009 Miles Franklin Literary Award, long listed for the 2010 Man Booker Prize and won the Australi ...more

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“It is possible the world is divided into three genders - there are men, there are women and then there are women who choose to have nothing to do with children. How about men without children, he answered quickly, aren't they also different from fathers? She shook her head firmly, daring him to contradict her: no, all men are the same.” 10 likes
“She did not want the pleasurable and comfortable mediocrity in which she now wallowed to be the sum of her life.” 4 likes
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