On Monday our Book Group will be discussing The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas, an Australian and worldwide bestseller. It was not recommended by me but one of the group who had heard good reviews of it. I’ve actually been watching the TV series as I read it.
First, the premise of the story: at a family barbecue a young precocious child is slapped for bad behaviour by one of the adults. The repercussions of this action affect all those in attendance and echo on for weeks and months as the mother of the child takes the adult to court. Each chapter of the book and episode of the TV series feature one of the eight characters who witness the slap.
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t really deal with the slap at all. It might have been better if it had. Far easier to get a discussion going on the admonishment of children and how other parents bring up their offspring. In actual fact, the book is about modern multicultural Australian society. In fact the multiculturalism in the book was a little contrived, to be honest. We had Greeks, Muslim, Indian, Aborigine, Gay, Catholic, Hindi, white, black, and all shades in between. Hardly a stereotype was missed. The language was course and racism rife. This may indeed reflect Australia today, but it was quite shocking to read. There was drug taking, alcoholism, and sex galore.
Actually I didn’t really like any of the characters. This made it difficult to keep going with the book, which is quite long, because I didn’t really care what happened to them. In the end, it just sort of petered out and I was left feeling really frustrated that this could have been a much better book indeed.
And the person who suggested the book? Well she is hiding her face in shame.