Review: The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

The Slap

by Christos Tsiolkas

At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own.

It is a single act, but the slap reverberates through the lives of everyone who witnesses it.

Told through the eyes of eight of those present at the barbecue, this acclaimed bestseller is an unflinching interrogation of the life of the modern family. Poignant and provocative, The Slap makes us question the nature of commitment and happiness, compromise and truth. Whose side are you on?


I had heard lots about this book, prior to getting a copy to review, and by all accounts it is a book that seems to divide people where you become a lover or hater, but not a fence sitter.

We meet all of the characters at the start of the book, as they are getting ready for, or arriving at the barbecue, where The Slap takes place. The story is told by eight characters who were present at the BBQ, occasionally touching on how The Slap had affected them, or their point of view of circumstances leading up to the event. But mostly The Slap is a series of short stories based on a small snippet of each of the characters lives, set mostly after The Slap, but also retracing steps back through their history to let us know how they came to be where and who they are now.

It is not a book for the delicate of heart, as there is a lot of swearing, most of which I would consider unnecessary. But from a man’s point of view it is possibly considered common place, and I would like to point out that it appeared pretty much only when it was the men’s stories being told.

I have read a few promo’s suggesting that The Slap is an eye-opening tell all on how the modern family lives in this day and age. However I would like to disagree with this, as it seemed that all most of them did was take drugs, cheat on their spouses, back stab their family and generally just be horrible people in one way or another, to everyone within the vicinity of their lives.

Saying that though, I really did enjoy reading this book, it was forthright, honest, and read as a tale that was holding no punches. People did bad things, they messed up their own and their family’s lives, but they also had so much love and devotion to give to those closest to them, that it seemed to smooth over the rough edges of the writing.

I would definitely recommend this book, especially if you are umming and ahhing over it, just be sure to put your blinkers on to block out the swearing!

Favourite Quote: ‘Lucky Lucky, Hector. Richie thought with sadness, and with relief. Some people walked away clean. That was the lesson he was learning. He was exhausted, confused. So what was the truth of what happened between Hector and Connie? Truth was this supposedly sacred thing, this thing that everyone – teachers, his mum, everyone – seemed to believe was important, that must be respected above all else. But the truth did not seem to matter here, not to Connie. Maybe not to anyone. Certainly, at this moment, not to himself.’  From Richie’s story.

Published by Allen and Unwin

Recommended Retail Price $24.99

Recommended Age: 18+

My Rating: 4/5

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One Response to Review: The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

  1. Pingback: Review: Last Summer by Kylie Ladd « The Hungry Bookshelf's Blog

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