What would you do if, while at a neighborhood BBQ, someone who is not your child's parent, slapped him or her? It's a thought-provoking question, especially given that parents' opinions are so varied on topics such as spanking as a form of discipline. This question is the basis of the events behind the book "The Slap", a widly popular book by Australian author Christos Tsiolkas. "The Slap" is the winner of the Commonweath Writers' Prize, and was a finalist for the ALS Gold Medal and the Miles Franklin Literary Award. After having the opportunity to read it for myself, it wasn't hard to see why.
The novel begins innocently enough: Hector and Aisha are hosting a backyard BBQ for family and friends in return for multiple invites to others' houses. While at the BBQ, young Hugo, a child who's parents don't seem to know the meaning of the word "discipline", begins to go after another child with a bat. The other child's father raises young Hugo off of the ground and slaps him, much to the amazement and horror of the other guests. The book is told from eight different points of view, and the remainder of the book focuses on the aftermath of this slap. The book touches on a variety of different issues, including aging, homosexuality, infedelity, sex, alcoholism, and drug use.
This is one of the most honest books that I have ever read, and it was a thrilling ride. Tsiolkas does not shy away from tacking difficult issues, and as a result this book is far more scandalous, and far more entertaining, than any episode of Desperate Housewives. I loved it, and couldn't put it down. The eight main characters have such seemingly different lives, yet Tsoilkas manages to intertwine their stories effortlessly. I will definitely keeping an eye out for his future novels.