'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)
In a wide-ranging interview, Tsiolkas discusses film and television adaptations of his work, critical reception of his work, his politics, the role of sex in his books, and what the description of his books as 'controversial' might mean.
'Postcolonialism may be defined as a theoretical framework for reading and appreciating cultural production between normative Western "forms of social explanation" and "more complex cultural and political boundaries" that demarcate responses to this normativity (Bhabha 248) As such, this framework has been extremely beneficial for, among other things, introducing and highlighting the work of writers from non-Western cultural backgrounds, particularly Indigenous and multicultural or diasporic writers whose works convey conceptual and aesthetic themes and values at once foreign and responsive to Western European literary modalities. Thanks to postcolonial theory and associated methodologies, a very diverse range of writers from a host of cultural origins and locations has been accepted by and incorporated into most, if not all, Western academic and literary milieus.' (Authors' introduction.)
Starford argues that Tsiolkas's novels are characterised by urgency and 'irate energy' (171), but that The Slap has too many points of view, and that the characters of Rosie and Gary do not receive a 'nuanced portrait' (172).
Ashton discusses narrative technique and the notion of family in Tsiolkas's The Slap, Cunningham's Bird, Flanagan's Wanting, Leigh's Disquiet, and Lohrey's Vertigo. The review spends most time on The Slap, and Ashton argues that the novel's focus on family should be seen not as a flight from politics, but as 'a flight to the politics of the middle-class family' (93).
Denes writes about the style of and characterisation in The Slap, with a particular focus on the anger and sex in the book. Denes argues that the novel is 'one-dimensional,' and the 'characters lapse too regularly into cliché, the language of teen fiction, porn or advertising.'
Tsiolkas discusses Loaded, Jesus Man and Dead Europe as a kind of 'trilogy', and how they relate to The Slap. He talks about his writing process; sex and aggression in his writing; family and community in The Slap; characterisation in The Slap.