I’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. Continue reading
Is it just me, or is Australian literature experiencing somewhat of a renaissance right now? It seems as though every other book I pick up these days is by an Australian. The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky is the latest piece of Aussie lit to grab my attention. The novel is about the day Miss Renshaw goes missing on a class excursion to the park and the legacy it leaves behind on the eleven girls in her class.
A couple of years ago Australian writer Christs Tsiolkas burst onto the North American literature scene with The Slap. I didn’t read it. It was about a man who slaps a child who is not his and controversy ensues. It appeared to stirring up controversy for controversy’s sake. But it would not go away!
Tsiolkas has a new book out now, Barracuda. It is about a young swimmer destined for greatness, but who’s life somehow goes down the tubes. The topic attracted me much more than The Slap, so I decided to give it a try. It is edgy, political, and somewhat controversial, but Barracuda is also highly readable. That Tsiolkas is a great writer is without a doubt. That he is also someone with a couple axes to grind may also be true.
One of the most important things Tsiolkas does in his novel is highlight Australian culture. I think most of us think that Australian culture can’t really be all that different from North American culture, with the notable exceptions of climate and beaches. Tsiolkas takes the reader into the working class of Australia and shows many of the biases and racial prejudices that exist in Australia today. Given the number of Australian friends I have I found this shocking and troubling. But then, most of my Australian friends are highly educated (we met in grad school) and middle class. And apparently class makes a difference. In that way, I’d say Australia is more like the UK than i had imagined.
Who would like this book? This book would be great for a book club. It creates discussion and makes the reader think. It is political not only in it’s look at class, but also sexuality. Although both Barracuda and The Rosie Project are Australian, they present utterly different worlds. Barracuda would also appeal to the sports minded as it is about competitive swimming.
You know that feeling that you get when you are watching the perfect romantic comedy? Yeah, that’s what it feels like to read Graeme Simsion‘s The Rosie Project. It is not the most astounding work of literary fiction to hit the shelves, but it is a darn good read. I read it quickly over two days and could not put it down. It was a huge hit in Australia, where it was originally published, and is now taking the rest of the world by storm. This is one of those books that should be on your radar this summer.
The story is about a socially awkward genetics professor looking for love in all the wrong places. He is quirky, charming and adorable as a character, but not what most women are looking for in a life partner. He falls in love without realizing it with a woman who is utterly unsuited to his rigidly scheduled life. Hilarious antics ensue.
The reason why I was so taken with The Rosie Project is because it is unlike any other novel I have read. Comparisons have been drawn to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time because the protagonists of both novels sit somewhere on the Autism spectrum, but beyond that the stories are dissimilar. At its heart The Rosie Project is a love story. A very funny and ill-fated love story. I felt invested in the characters and truly wanted them to find each other and happiness.
Who would like this book? With summer upon us, I would say that The Rosie Project is the perfect summer read. Not too heavy, funny and smart just like any romantic comedy movie should be. If it were a movie I think it would likely star Steve Carell. It is something you could immerse yourself in during an airplane ride and arrive at your destination feeling relaxed, entertained and happy.