You will have gathered by now that most of the books on my list are ones I've bought on the recommendation of friends or family, and then promptly forgotten all about them.
The Slap is no exception. This one was recommended by a friend who was living in Australia when this book was published, and apparently it caused quite a stir. I'm looking forward to seeing what all the fuss was about.
Although this is Australian author Tsiolkas’ fourth novel, it is the first to be published in the U.S. With its raw style, liberal use of profanity and racial epithets, and laserlike focus on the travails of suburban life, it is a down-and-dirty version of Tom Perrotta’s best-selling Little Children (2004).
At a barbecue in a Melbourne suburb, a man loses his temper and slaps the child of the host’s friends. This incident unleashes a slew of divisive opinions, pitting friends and families against each other as the child’s parents take the man to court.
Told from eight different viewpoints, the novel also deftly fills in disparate backstories encompassing young and old, single and married, gay and straight, as well as depicting how multiculturalism is increasingly impacting the traditional Aussie ethos. For good measure, the author also throws in male vanity, infidelity, and homophobia.
Tsiolkas’ in-your-face style is sure to alienate some readers—the child’s parents, for example, are among the book’s most unlikable characters—but his novel, which won the 2009 Commonwealth Prize, fairly radiates with vitality as it depicts the messy complications of family life.