The Slap – Christos Tsiolkas
“A man slaps a child who is not his own…..”
As I started to read, my first thought was, blimey! What a bunch of narcissistic, unlikeable characters. I think I felt sorry for about two of the protagonists in this book, but the rest of them were horrible, self-absorbed people. Gay, straight, male, female, teenagers, children, adults, Muslims, Christians, atheists – all of them had varying degrees of racism, misogyny and homophobia. And all hidden under a veneer of respectable middle-class values.
But as I continued through the book, which is written from eight different viewpoints, my opinion of the characters began to change. People who I initially thought were repellent, became less so when I learned a little more about their back-story. And there were characters who lost my sympathy when I heard about their past and watched them make choices in their lives.
The Slap makes for very uncomfortable reading at times. But the sex and foul language is not gratuitous; it is intrinsic to the story as we learn about the relationships between the characters. And the casual racism and overt misogyny was more unsettling to me than the adultery and drug taking.
This is an extremely well written book which tackles a difficult subject head on. I’ll definitely be reading more from Tsiolkas.