'At a suburban barbecue, a man slaps a child who is not his own.
'This event has a shocking ricochet effect on a group of people, mostly friends, who are directly or indirectly influenced by the event.
'In this remarkable novel, Christos Tsiolkas turns his unflinching and all-seeing eye onto that which connects us all: the modern family and domestic life in the twenty-first century. The Slap is told from the points of view of eight people who were present at the barbecue. The slap and its consequences force them all to question their own families and the way they live, their expectations, beliefs and desires.
'What unfolds is a powerful, haunting novel about love, sex and marriage, parenting and children, and the fury and intensity - all the passions and conflicting beliefs - that family can arouse. In its clear-eyed and forensic dissection of the ever-growing middle class and its aspirations and fears, The Slap is also a poignant, provocative novel about the nature of loyalty and happiness, compromise and truth.' (Publisher's blurb)
'Meet Hector [...], a public servant, husband, father and valued friend on the cusp of his 40th birthday. Meet Aisha [...], Hector's beautiful and intelligent wife who is planning his party filled with friends and his very boisterous Greek family. Sounds like the makings of a great day, right? Wrong.
'As Hector tries to navigate family politics, awkward friendships and the young woman he is dangerously captivated by, the built-up tension explodes when Hector's hotheaded cousin slaps another couple's misbehaving child. Everyone is understandably stunned, and the party abruptly ends with the child's parents vowing legal action. What the hosts and guests don't know, however, is that this moment will ignite a chain of events that will uncover long-buried secrets within this group of friends and family... and vigorously challenge the core values of everyone involved.'
Source: NBC (http://www.nbc.com/the-slap). (Sighted: 3/2/2015)
Unit Suitable For
AC: Year 11 (Literature Unit 3). This unit could be suitably adapted for study at a tertiary level also.
Australian identity, families, identity, middle class values, morality, multiculturalism, relationships
Critical and creative thinking, Ethical understanding, Information and communication technology, Intercultural understanding, Literacy
'This article takes up a specific feature of Christos Tsiolkas's writing, his style. Focusing on Tsiolkas's fourth novel, The Slap, this article argues that Tsiolkas’s style is an inarticulate style: a style that does not always use the right word at the right moment, that employs language for narrative utility rather than its own sake, and that sporadically departs from standard usage and correctness in ways that do not appear artistically motivated. My argument is that The Slap is notable among contemporary fiction in that what I consider to be Tsiolkas’s worst sentences are the most revealing of his inclinations as a novelist. Consequently, I depart from what has become a standard formula in Tsiolkas's reception, that where Tsiolkas succeeds as a writer he succeeds in spite of his style. Finally, this article also contributes to recent debates about the purpose and vocabulary of Australian literary discussion: how critics debate the work of a prize-winning author, how criticism and praise operate in critical judgements, and the significance of style in evaluations of literature.' (Publication abstract)
'In this chapter, I approach contemporary Australian multiperspectival novels, i.e. texts in which the reader accesses the storyworld through different focalisers, from the perspective of narrative empathy. I argue that narrative empathy as a result of a text’s multiperspectivity can arise primarily if the narrative foregrounds conflict between focalisers. To illustrate this, I offer readings of Christos Tsiolkas’s The Slap (2008) and Gail Jones’s Five Bells (2011). Narrative empathy features differently in the two novels. While The Slap indeed invites readers to feel empathy on the basis of the multiperspectival structure of the text, this is not the case in Five Bells, since the narrative does not exacerbate conflict in the same way as Tsiolkas’s narrative does. At the same time, I suggest that it fulfils similar functions in both texts in that its main aim is to foster greater understanding for those whose subjectivities are marginalised within society.'
'Percy Bysshe Shelley once described poets as the 'unacknowledged legislators of the world'. If this is true, Australian political scientists have shown curiously little interest in the role that literary figures play in the nation's political life.
'Novel Politics takes the relationship between literature and politics seriously, analysing the work of six writers, each the author of a classic text about Australian society. These authors bridge the history of local writing, from pre-Federation colonial Australia (Catherine Spence, Rosa Praed and Catherine Martin) to the contemporary moment (Tim Winton, Christos Tsiolkas and Kim Scott). Novel Politics unpicks the many political threads woven into these books, as they document the social world as it exists, while suggesting new possibilities for the nation's future. As political commentators of a particular kind, all six authors offer unique insights into the deeper roots of politics in Australia, beyond the theatre of parliament and out into the wider social world, as imagined by its dreamers and criticised by its most incisive discontents.'(Publication summary)