Allen & Unwin (Australia)|
|10 November 2008|
|Pages||483 pp. (first edition)|
|LC Class||PR9619.3.T786 S53 2008|
The Slap is a 2008 novel by Australian author Christos Tsiolkas. The narrative is presented through the viewpoints of eight individual characters, and focuses on their reactions after a man controversially reprimands his friend's son by slapping him during a social gathering. The novel won the Commonwealth Writer's Prize in 2009, and was adapted into two miniseries, in Australia and the United States.
At a barbecue in suburban Melbourne, a man slaps a three-year-old boy across the face. The child, Hugo, has been misbehaving without any intervention by his parents, "the steely-eyed Rosie and the wimpish Gary." The slapper is Harry, cousin of the barbecue host and adulterous businessman whose slightly older son, Rocco, is being threatened by Hugo. This event sends the other characters "into a spiral, agonising and arguing over the notion that striking a child can ever be justified. Some believe a naughty boy should be taught some discipline, others maintain the police ought to be brought in to investigate a common assault" with a range of positions in between.
A judge of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize, Nicholas Hasluck, described The Slap as "a controversial and daring novel" which examines "identities and personal relationships in a multicultural society" and "taps into universal tensions and dilemmas around family life and child-rearing."
The story is told through the voices of eight characters, in third person and each in a chapter of their own. "The reverberations of the slap ... [are told] chronologically through each character's story". The characters range from two Year 12 students to a 71-year-old man, and comprise four males and four females. Reviewer Windsor writes that "As an architectural device, this is inspired. With their narrowed focus, the individual stories, up to 80 pages long, have an intensity to them that a conventional comprehensive narrative could not have come near."
(italic print signifies the eight characters whose points of view are given in the novel's different sections.)
The eight-part television series The Slap is an adaptation of the book. Its filming commenced in January 2011 and first screened on Australian television channel ABC1 from October 2011. An American adaptation of the series, with Melissa George reprising her role as Rosie, the slapped child's mother, premiered on the NBC network in February 2015.
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