Review: The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

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

This event has a shocking ricochet effect on a group of people, mostly friends, who are directly or indirectly influenced by the event.

In this remarkable novel, Christos Tsiolkas turns his unflinching and all-seeing eye onto that which connects us all: the modern family and domestic life in the twenty-first century. The Slap is told from the points of view of eight people who were present at the barbecue. The slap and its consequences force them all to question their own families and the way they live, their expectations, beliefs and desires.

What unfolds is a powerful, haunting novel about love, sex and marriage, parenting and children, and the fury and intensity – all the passions and conflicting beliefs – that family can arouse. In its clear-eyed and forensic dissection of the ever-growing middle class and its aspirations and fears, The Slap is also a poignant, provocative novel about the nature of loyalty and happiness, compromise and truth.


If you’ve yet to hear of The Slap give me a moment to pause in surprise, well at least if you’re in Australia. I don’t see this novel as being as well known as say Stephen King or Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, both of which are part of pop culture now, but The Slap is one of those books that has been slowly growing momentum as a subject you can hear murmured about on your periphery, if it hasn’t as yet made it into your direct line of sight. Continue reading