The slap – discussion notes

The 1st Wed Reading Group discussed ‘The slap by Australian writer Christos Tsiolkas. The book won 2009 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book, shortlisted for 2009 Miles Franklin Literary Awards and longlisted for Man Booker 2010. It was a good discussion about it. Val sent me the group notes to share with others.

 The story revolves around a group of friends at a bbq and one of the men slaps another person’s child.  The book was not really about the slap but the consequences that follow and an insight into the characters of the people at the bbq.  The common view was that none of the characters was likeable.  Some very strong views were expressed about some of the characters in particular.

The author wrote it from an experience of his own parents and it was interesting to look at the values of the Greek parents in comparison to their adult children’s views.  The story generated wide discussion about the rights and wrongs of slapping a child.  It was also noted that the women in the story were accepting of violence within their marriages – this was the most horrible aspect of the book.

Most considered it a good read though not representative of reality.  Do people really live like the people in the story – some people said yes, it was representative of the age of the characters and of the new middle class.  The author seemed to be trying to include a token of every group, ie one aboriginal, one Indian etc.  

Some people didn’t enjoy it at all and didn’t finish reading the book, they found the writing style was loathsome and repetitive and one reviewer felt like an alien in her own age group.  Everyone found the language very confronting.  The redeeming quality of the book was the development of the characters and towards the end one of the characters was almost worthy of compassion.