August 16, 2010

The Slap, by Christos Tsiolkas

I first heard of The Slap when it was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, but it's won several other awards already. I suppose it deserved them. It's about a man slapping someone else's kid at a barbecue in Australia, and the wide-ranging repercussions that action has. It's told from the point of view of eight different characters, who each gets their own section. I liked that, and it was easy to keep track of everybody, but sometimes I missed a character who I got to know early on and then wasn't around much after that. On the other hand, I was glad to finish with the three sexist, brutish Greek men who were portrayed. Since it was written by a Greek man, I'm not sure what that says about them.

There was a lot of casual adultery and drug use in this book. Like, a father takes speed at his party, and later on, some teenagers shoot up something. Perhaps this was a particularly hedonistic group of successful, good-looking but ethnically diverse Australians. I didn't particularly like any of them except for Connie and Richie, the teenager best friends, and Anouk, just about the only non-deceptive adult in the bunch. You don't have to like the characters to like the book, and I did like it, but in the end, really, I think everyone overreacted. Some of them acted really terribly, and, spoiler alert- no one really had to pay for it.

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