March book club: The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
Occasionally, a novel bursts from the confines of the literary pages and becomes a zeitgeist-capturing phenomenon. One of the most divisive and talked-about novels in years, The Slap is a deeply thought-provoking novel about boundaries and their limits, the failings of middle-class life and whether liberal values have any place in a multicultural society.
It opens when a man at a suburban barbecue hits another person's child. This single act reverberates through the lives of everyone who witnesses it.
The Slap's author, Christos Tsiolkas, is a playwright, essayist and screenwriter, and he has written three previous novels: Loaded, The Jesus Man and Dead Europe.
About The Slap
The Slap won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize 2009 and was longlisted for the 2009 Man Booker Prize. It is a UK Top 10 bestseller, and has been on the Australian bestseller lists since its publication in 2008. Christos lives in Melbourne, Australia.
Some proclaimed the book a hard-hitting chronicle of our times ("Neighbours as written by Philip Roth," declared the Sunday Times) and Colm Toibin compared it to Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections, but others objected to its crude vision of life: "There is no joy, no love, no hope, no beauty," said India Knight.
In Christos Tsiolkas' opinion, the real violence in the novel is racial intolerance - the root cause of the character's sexual and emotional violence. "These things are so difficult to negotiate... Trying to understand the complexity of multicultural society is something that is ongoing," he has said.
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