Book #80

The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

When a man slaps a child who is not his own at a neighborhood barbecue, the act triggers a series of repercussions in the lives of the people who witness the event-causing them to reassess their values, expectations, and desires.

A boy slapped at a barbecue by a man he doesn’t know - aren’t humans disgusting? And yet, although the slap is only the initial spark of the events Tsiolkas relates to us, we soon see it’s not just violence which makes us all abhorrent.

In multiple narratives, we explore the lives of those attending the barbecue, and how the slap has a reverberating effect around their group. None of them are likable, in fact each of them have significant qualities which merit introspection and analysis - including the slapped kid. These characters all seem entirely unaware of their deepest flaws, and I am sure many of us are the same. Perspective is a funny thing, and with multiple voices, we see how each of us become a different person depending on who you ask.

There’s very little redemption here. Although we hear the voices of each of our characters, there’s only one chapter for each of them. We see them in other narratives, but never hear from them again, which makes learning about their growth difficult. And I’ve already mentioned perspective. Maybe sometimes we can’t just shake off our bad qualities, maybe in some areas we never change.

This is one which I’m still rolling around my brain to understand my opinions. It’s an excellent character study, and one which allows you to examine your own behaviour. For plot and character development, I would look elsewhere.