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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Casts a whole new light on Neighbours
Yes, it's quite shocking and visceral. Yes, the characters are unlikeable. But I think it's quite an accurate portrait of modern suburban society in maybe any Westernised city in the world. Who knows what really goes on behind those curtains, at those barbecues? What people are really thinking while they're being outwardly polite to you?
People ARE casually racist,...
Published 18 months ago by Juliet Bravo

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311 of 345 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Throw another Point Of View on the barbie.
This is a long book and it took me a while to get into it. I was in fact on the point of abandoning it when it eventually did pick up a bit. One of the problems is that at the start you are confronted by a large cast of characters and I for one was a bit bewildered trying to keep up with who everyone was to begin with. Anyway, I did persevere and I am quite glad I did...
Published on 30 May 2010 by doublegone


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Casts a whole new light on Neighbours, 29 May 2013
This review is from: The Slap (Paperback)
Yes, it's quite shocking and visceral. Yes, the characters are unlikeable. But I think it's quite an accurate portrait of modern suburban society in maybe any Westernised city in the world. Who knows what really goes on behind those curtains, at those barbecues? What people are really thinking while they're being outwardly polite to you?
People ARE casually racist, people swear, people have bad sex, people commit adultery and have abortions.
I found it quite fascinating as a portrait of multiracial Australia, I have never been to Australia and I guess my idea of Melbourne comes from Neighbours, where everyone is white Anglo-Saxon (or at least they were when I used to watch it). This book certainly casts Neighbours in a whole new light...
Ok so some of the stereotypes were a little overdone, particularly the extended breastfeeding mother. At first I baulked at the crude way she was criticised, but people really do think things like that about women who breastfeed toddlers (who by the way don't always have dysfunctional children!). Yet the chapter about Rosie was so well drawn in the way it explained her decisions and background. I also really liked the chapter about Manolis (the old Greek dad), which was quite poignant. Harry was horrible, Aisha was shallow, Hector wasn't much better - but don't we all know people like that?
I think it's well written, funny and gripping. And I don't read "trash" novels, I read good stuff generally, it's taken me a few years to get round to this one.
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311 of 345 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Throw another Point Of View on the barbie., 30 May 2010
By 
doublegone (scotland) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Slap (Paperback)
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This is a long book and it took me a while to get into it. I was in fact on the point of abandoning it when it eventually did pick up a bit. One of the problems is that at the start you are confronted by a large cast of characters and I for one was a bit bewildered trying to keep up with who everyone was to begin with. Anyway, I did persevere and I am quite glad I did although this is by no means a perfect book.

An adult smacks someone else's misbehaving child at a barbecue and the ripples from this event spread out through a chain of eight different people whose point of view we are given one after the other. If you pick up the book and have a glance at the blurb you might get the impression that it sets out to explore the rights and wrongs of the slapping incident - but the smack seems to be there merely to offer a link between the characters. The book is really a portrait of contemporary and cosmopolitan Australia. As such it is reasonably interesting but plot wise its difficult to glean any point to the story as we meander through the lives of the eight narrators.

I must add that I am quite surprised how many other reviewers have been upset by some of the language used in this book. The dialogue contains fairly run of the mill swearing and its puzzling to imagine there are poor flowers out there over the age of 8 and outside of a convent who are offended by this. Similarly some of the characters exhibit casual racism but we are it seems to me supposed to disapprove of them for this. Exposing such racism makes this an anti-racist book in my opinion. There is racism in Australia, and sometimes people swear. Its odd to think some readers think this is the author's fault. It seems an honest and accurate depiction of a society to me.

This is a flawed book though, and not as engaging as I would have wished.
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146 of 167 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Melbourne book for Melbourne people, 17 May 2010
By 
MisterHobgoblin (Melbourne) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Slap (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Christos Tsiolkas is a Melbourne writer and The Slap is a Melbourne book. It delivers a number of portraits of Melbourne types - the Greek car dealer; the Indian vet; the soap opera world; the gay teenager; the bogan mother and more. The portraits are all loosely linked to one another, deriving from a barbecue at which the horrid bogan toddler is slapped by the Greek car dealer. But the novel is not plot driven, it is 100% character focused. There is no great ending to draw it all together; the novel might as well be seen as a set of short essays.

The demographics, the reported movement of families around the northern and eastern suburbs was revealing. Melbourne is undergoing great social change right now - as it has probably done since its foundation. There is a reference to the soaring real estate prices, with a knowing assertion that a million dollar shoe box is still a shoe box - although more colourful language was used to make the point. The implication, clearly, was that the people living in it might have become millionaires but they are still what they ever were.

The Slap also charts the changing social attitudes in Melbourne. There are three distinct generations in the piece - teenagers; forty-somethings; and the grandparents. Each generation had thought they were the rebels; the trailblazers but then get swept aside by the next generation. It's all a matter of perception, and after reading old man Manolis's section one can't help but think that today's young rebels, rude, brash and arrogant have a somewhat easier life than their ancestors.

The Slap does a great job in giving life and expression to ordinary Melburnians. It offers a convincing vision and conveys a strong sense of place. It is long, involved and very much a slow burner. It probably isn't going to appeal to those looking for a strong story - which is a pity because that's what the cover promises. It may not seem relevant to people who don't know Melbourne; people who might not understand the social and racial interplay that is going on. And it certainly isn't Neighbours with its short, twee plotlines, weekly cliffhangers and easy resolutions. This is serious literature, weighty in both paper and meaning. But it may not travel well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Badly written and shows a lack of good vocabulary, 10 Oct 2014
This review is from: The Slap (Paperback)
I had heard a lot about this book. How glad I am that I borrowed it from the library rather than wasting money on buying it. My overall impression is that the author lacks a proper vocabulary, hence the constant stream of obscenities, not just in the conversations of the characters, but in the narrative as well.

The topic of the book is controversial and here was a golden opportunity for a writer to examine what happens among a group of close friends and relatives when an adult - not the parent - delivers a well-deserved slap to a small boy who has never been disciplined by his parents.

The characters are, in their various ways, unpleasant and I could not identify with any of them, let alone feel any sympathy for them. They all swore, or appeared to think in swear words, used their bad language in front of their children, and were obsessed with fantasising about sex with other people, as well as being unfaithful to their partners.

This book does a great disservice to Australian people - I have many Australian friends, and have hardly ever heard any of them utter even the mildest of swear words! Do all Australian teenagers take drugs at every opportunity? The ones I've met certainly do not.

I am left wondering how such a badly-written novel was ever accepted for publication.
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569 of 658 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The Slap, 28 Aug 2010
By 
TomCat (Cardiff, Wales.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Slap (Paperback)
If Christos Tsiolkas had wanted to name his novel after its most prominent moment or topic, then he should have called it `unpleasant people having repetitive, unpleasant sex' rather than 'The Slap'. The novel's titular event is barely a footnote to the plot, and Tsiolkas seems morally afraid to engage with the issue on any significant plane: 'The Slap' is neither emotionally nor intellectually demanding and offers no insight into the ethical conundrum posed by its blurb.

At a BBQ in Melbourne, Australia, a four-year-old boy named Hugo is acting every bit the insufferable, entitled, disruptive and unpleasant infant his parents have brought him up to be. In an effort to calm the rowdy and precocious boy, a man who isn't his father slaps him in front of the entire gathering.

The domestic corporal punishment of children is a contentious issue; even more so when the chastisement is delivered by a non-parent. In some countries (not Australia) it's completely illegal, and in most parts of the world the concept is associated with a niche of old-fashioned parenting, perhaps synonymous with the traditionalist right.

Child slapping has also received an unprecedented amount of media attention in recent years; it's an issue about which everybody has an opinion - even if you've not been a parent, then you've been a child - making it perfect fodder for the popular novel. Perhaps this universal interest accounts for the novel's ridiculous sales record; it's currently the best-selling book of the 2010 Booker Prize longlist, and according to some sources, it's sold a staggering 5000% more copies than its closest competitor, Room by Emma Donoghue. These sales figures can probably be attributed to the book's provocative subject matter; but if you were feeling particularly cynical, you could argue that 'The Slap' has sold so well because it's the only paperback on the Booker longlist.

The narrative is divided into eight very long chapters, each told from the perspective of a different witness to the slap. The first thing I noticed was the ethnic and cultural diversity of the cast of characters at this neighbourhood barbecue. The entire social rainbow is represented in 'The Slap', and the novel's dramatis personae reads like the fantasy guest-list of an equal opportunities officer: there's an Indian-Australian, Greek-Australian, Aboriginal-Australian, naturalized white Australians, a black Muslim, a Catholic, a Hindi and an atheist; young, old, gay, straight, single, married and divorced; with careers ranging from the unemployed to car mechanics, doctors, vets, writers, actors, waitresses, shop-keepers and carpenters. I'm not saying that such a sundry group of tight-knit friends doesn't or couldn't exist (if anything, I admit that `realism' is an elastic and ambivalent critical term), but the cast smacks of misguided political correctness.

Concordantly, the social and economic diversity of the characters exposes Tsiolkas' laziness as a writer; he resorts to the most basic exploitation of social conflicts in order to create dramatic tension. It's indolent, lacks depth and is border-line offensive in its reductiveness.

However, despite their differing cultural heritages, the characters in The Slap all share the same, uniform personality. It's a psychological homunculus applied to every single protagonist. They are all (without exception); adulterous, quick to anger, violent, vain, profane, selfish and judgemental. The eight characters that the novel follows may as well all be the same person. They're not presented as anti-heroes, nor are they unpleasant in an appealing or curiously attractive way; they're just horrible, horrible people, and I thank God that Tsiolkas' vision of society isn't at all close to reality.

Supposedly, each chapter gives us a different viewpoint on the slapping of Hugo. I was hoping that, as the novel progressed, a complex discourse would develop; one that analyses the various moral and social implications of hitting children. But in truth, Tsiolkas has absolutely nothing to say on the matter; nothing in The Slap is enlightening, contentious, creative or insightful. The fall-out from the titular event lasts no more than fifty pages, and the writer doesn't contribute anything of interest to the debate. Only the two simplest of viewpoints are implicit in the narrative, and these the most garishly polar of the debate: `The kid deserved it' versus `nobody should hit a child'. What's more frustrating is that Tsiolkas refuses to express any kind of authorial opinion - lest he alienate a percentage of his potential readership, I imagine. The book is reluctant to fall down on either side of the child-slapping debate and thus lacks any argument or imperative whatsoever.

The prose can be defined by two stylistic idiosyncrasies: firstly, there's a constant use of expletives and secondly, an obsession with gratuitous sex.

I wish I could say the language was witty or shocking, but it's merely tedious in its verbose repetition. Every page of the book drips with profanity rather than insight; it seems that Tsiolkas can only articulate his characters' emotions with expletives; from happiness to sadness, everything is described in four-letter words. To say the novel suffers from a lack of linguistic breadth would be an understatement. Maybe this is how the average Australian speaks (which I doubt), but after 500 pages of it, I just had to let the pointlessly crude language wash over me, meaninglessly - surely this is not a good thing?

I found the novel's sex scenes to be equally pointless. I don't consider myself a prude, or squeamish, but the sheer amount of gratuitous sexual imagery in The Slap acts as nothing more than distracting filler. At times I was confused as to whether I was reading an attempt at literature, or soft-porn. Generally speaking, I discourage sex scenes in novels; unless they develop a plot, comment on themes or are in some way vital to character development, then I find them irrelevant. The language and imagery used to evoke sex in The Slap is cliché-riddled, ineloquent and unintentionally farcical. I don't want to see the characters having sex for the same reasons that I don't want to see Elizabeth Bennet slowly eating breakfast, or Jack Bauer voiding his bowels - it tells me nothing, it means nothing; I feel nothing.

Parts of the novel are also frustratingly difficult to read. There's a frequent confusion of pronouns, for example:

"Hector told Harry that he was in trouble."

The meaning of this sentence is ambiguous; is it Hector that's in trouble, or is it Harry? It isn't clear from the context and while I could forgive such a misguided construction if it were a one-off, this type of grammatical error is alarmingly common-place. Similarly, the second-half of the novel is riddled with typing and page-setting errors, take the following three examples:

`Brutal' she head [sic] her aunt say, `it's just brutal'.

`I'm going to put then [sic] kids to bed'

`Harry shouldn't have het [sic] that child.'

It's as if Tsiolkas' editors got bored half-way through the book (who can blame them?), and decided to give up. I find such a proliferation of typos in a printed novel to be utterly inexcusable and a detriment to the veracity of the medium.

'The Slap' is a complete failure; a book that promises so much but delivers so little. Supposedly, it's a heated and controversial novel about a much-debated moral issue; in reality The Slap makes no contribution to the child-slapping discussion. It offers no original insights or ethical commentary, and doesn't even do a good job of couching the debate in terms of its pros and cons. The actual event, `the slapping', is over in an instant and is soon forgotten about in favour of long, gratuitous sex-scenes and uninteresting personal disputes. I'm sure that the novel's ostensible subject matter will make it popular with a certain type of coffee-morning book group; but I'm also confident that, like me, most readers will be disappointed by the novel's refusal to engage with the issues at hand.

I cannot fathom why the Booker Prize judges saw fit to nominate this novel to their longlist. Don't read it. And if you happen to see Christos Tsiolkas walking down the street, feel-free to give him a much-deserved and well earned slap across the face.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Someone Slap The Author, 18 Feb 2014
I'd seen this novel advertised everywhere.

And I'd read the almost universal praise: it's amazing, funny, thought-provoking, smart, life-changing, genius, original, a masterpiece--and every other gushing piece of praise you can think of. It was lauded as the year's greatest novel; if not the best of the millennium, which I've heard before about many other boring and pointless novels. Yet, in spite of this, I fell for the hype. I liked the short concept of the novel (A man slaps another person's child at a barbecue, and this one act of inappropriate violence affects the surrounding community), and I wanted to read more. I should have known better.

The novel flips between many different characters, from chapter to chapter, showing everyone's lives and also their point of view on the child-slapping incident. And after awhile, I realised this wasn't really a novel--it's an overinflated soap opera drama. It's boring, pretentious, and the writer is as one-dimensional as his characters. They're all the same: foul-mouthed, depthless, and horny. There was no real differentiation between them, not even in their use of language. The more characters I was introduced to, the less I wanted to read on.

Plus the conversations littered throughout were pathetic; they were contrived, stifled and wooden and I felt like the author was forcing me to read through a written agenda of his own political diatribes. I don't care about his views. I don't care about this book. The real person who should have been slapped is the author, for wasting my time, my life, and my money.

But if you like boring, "literary" dramas, then this will probably be your thing.

It's a masterpiece, apparently.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great news: lots more in the pipeline, 15 Mar 2013
This review is from: The Slap (Paperback)
The following press release has just been received from Christos Tsiolkas's agent:

If you enjoyed The Slap, then here is some good news. Christos Tsiolkas now sees it as only the first in a continuing series of books which he believes will redefine our understanding of the modern world. Next up will be The Kick, which will centre on a soccer game in which one of the players kicks a member of the opposing team. That will be followed by The Push, in which someone in a queue for tickets to a rock concert pushes the person in front of him out of the queue. And beyond that a further eight titles are also in the pipeline, including The Stare, The Frown, and The Cynically Raised Eyebrow.

Some ungenerous critics have suggested that the ethical considerations involved in an adult slapping a child can be dealt with in one sentence ("An adult should never hit a child, no matter how badly behaved") and that a 500-page book is therefore somewhat over the top. Other critics, even more ungenerously, have suggested that the technique used in The Slap, in which the story is told from the perspective of 8 separate characters (most of whom have little or nothing to say about the slapping incident which is supposedly the book's unifying event), produces 8 largely disjointed stories without any unifying theme. Many of these critics concede that there are some enjoyable vignettes - for example, the chapter devoted to Manolis includes an interesting study of an elderly man's distress at what he sees as the poor behaviour of younger generation - but this can't compensate, the critics argue, for the overall disjointedness of the book. Worse still, some people have even suggested that Tsiolkas's characters, who swear pointlessly at every opportunity and who mostly seem to think that sex is an entirely physical activity with little or no emotional content, aren't a reasonable representation of life in Melbourne, or indeed anywhere else.

When these points were put to Christos Tsiolkas, his reply was every bit as articulate as we would expect from the author of The Slap: "I'll f...ing write what I f..ing well like, and all these f...ers can just f... off". Surely only the most cynical critic could fail to be swayed by such a strong argument? The world breathlessly awaits his next book!

End of press release.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Give me a slap!, 21 July 2014
By 
ED Farr (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Slap (Paperback)
Still battling on with this book but am seriously losing the will to live.

The Slap was recommended to me by a friend after hearing about it on the radio but once you have taken the f words and the c words of every sentence you are left with very little substance to this book. The individual characters are pretty boring and although their individual chapters are incredibly long. They are also mind-numingly boring.

That being said, there is something about the book that is making me keep reading it. It isn't coming on holiday with me, which means I have 3 days to find out what that something is.

I suspect it won't be that exciting, so I would save your money and look further on.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A snapshot of modern life cleverly put together, 22 May 2011
By 
Jane Collison (UK) - See all my reviews
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I really enjoyed this book. (I must admit to a fondness for Australia, having spent a happy few months backpacking there 20 years ago.) I couldn't put some chapters of this book down and I thought the overall structure - a character per chapter and their lives up to, including and since 'the slap' - was different and clever. I thought the cultural references and swearing were completely inoffensive and realistic. I don't understand the negative criticism ... for what I want/expect from a modern novel, it met the criteria and then some. It's entertaining, thought-provoking, informative, imaginative, engaging, well-written and constructed ... what more do you want from a read?
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3.0 out of 5 stars Amoral Melbourne, 30 Nov 2014
By 
L. Davidson (Belfast, N.Ireland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Slap (Paperback)
I spent most of the first two years of my life living in Melbourne after my parents emigrated there in the late sixties. However I remember nothing about it. My parents came back to live in Northern Ireland just after the outbreak of The Troubles. In an alternative universe I could have grown up in Melbourne and I often wished I had as life in Belfast is pretty grim. However after reading "The Slap" I'm not so sure. The book describes the lives,behaviour and attitudes of a group of ordinary, middling Melbourne people and it makes for harrowing reading at times. Melbourne comes across as an amoral cesspit of a place. These people commit adultery,beat their wives,have abortions,take drugs and engage in homosexual activity. They drink ,gossip and swear too much. They come from all manners of races and creeds from around the world and have no fixed moral boundaries. In short, the characters are all unlikeable and I personally wouldn't be able to get on with any of them. The book is well written and after a slow start,where the reader is introduced to a confusingly large number of characters all at once,the book becomes more entertaining once each of the characters tells their own personal story to the reader. We enter the lives of Indian vets,teenage gays and breast feeding mothers as a whole horrific picture of modern Melbourne society unfolds. Anything goes in this degenerate world. There is no real plot to the book as such,just a series of individual stories casually linked by a slap to a toddler given by an angry parent at a barbecue. This is quite a long book,but an interesting one and one which gives fascinating insights into the twenty first century Australian psyche. Not a pretty sight !
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The Slap
The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas (Paperback - 17 Mar 2011)
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