The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

The Slap by Christos TsiolkasI’m not even sure how to talk about The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas because I loved it that much. Last year I read his latest work, Barracuda and was blown away by it, but it has nothing on The Slap. The Slap is gritty, messy, at times offensive, and beautifully written. For me it was the perfect combination of writing, flawed characters, compelling story and social commentary.

But the real reason you should read The Slap is because it exemplifies diversity in a very natural way, in the way in which most of us living in a diverse world encounter it on a daily basis. Though the story is set in Australia, the majority of the characters are Greek, but there are also characters of Indian and Vietnamese descent, regular old Australians and a wide range of sexualities. In other words, it reflected the reality of life in Australia.

And just because there was this rainbow of diversity in The Slap, doesn’t mean everything was happy and beautiful, that would be too simple. There is racism of various degrees, sexism, abuse, degradation … you name it. But that is precisely what makes the novel so brilliant – nothing is black and white and it actually reflects the world we live in pretty accurately.

Who would like this book? These days it seems that everyone is looking for more diverse reads, so pick up The Slap. It does not present diversity for diversity’s sake, but more likely because it is the author’s reality. And for those who wish to be ahead of the curve, Uma Thurman will be starring in an American remake of the Australian mini-series based on the book later in 2015.


  1. Another book I have to read! And I have a lovely signed copy on the shelf. I was just watching a video tonight of a panel discussion he took part in recently in India and was reminded of how thoughtful and soft spoken he is in person while his work can be very direct and intense. Too many books, too many books…

  2. REALLY weird…I have the Today Show on as I’m eating breakfast and going through my blog feed and they were just talking about the mini series called The Slap about 30 seconds ago. Then this came up. Honestly, the book sounds much, much better than the mini series looks!

  3. I just heard that it was being made into an american mini-series earlier today as well. Weird! It was also done by the Australians. I don’t know how well it will translate to screen. I’m especially wary of how the American version will treat the question of race. But it is a tremendous book! I highly recommend.

  4. Ok, maybe I should give this book another try. I tried reading it when it first came out, and what I read of it, I hated. The problem is, because it was a while ago, I can’t remember exactly why. I just have this impression of hatred and nastiness. I am not easily put off, but this one just rubbed me the wrong way. I suspect it might be partly that I don’t want to admit that that is what people in this world are like. (These impressions are all based on just the first 50 pages or so. Does it change at all after that?) Just the fact that you loved it so much makes me incredibly curious about it.

  5. I’m sold! Adding it to my list! I like what you say about it not doing diversity for diversity’s sake. Rather it’s just a representation of what life actually looks like in Australia. I haven’t read anything set in Australia for a while. I’m also encouraged by the other posts that come up with this one – The Dinner and All The Light We Cannot See? It’s a sign.

  6. When I first heard of this novel a few years ago, I wasn’t terribly interested in it (all of the hype I guess left me feeling a little =| about it), but it has piqued my interest in recent weeks. I think hearing about the miniseries prompted me to reconsider picking up this book so yeah, will bump this up the want-to-read pile. Great review!

  7. Pingback: Favorites of 2015 | 52 books or bust

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