The Slap, Christos Tsiolkas

The Slap, Christos Tsiolkas Interesting, I think, that ‘The Slap’ has been adapted for television. It will be aired in a ten-part series from this Thursday on BBC4. If you’ve read ‘The Slap’, you’ll know that the subject matter is quite uneasy; a man slaps a misbehaving child (not his own, not that it should make a difference) at an afternoon barbeque, and a whole narrative unwinds from there. It’s set in Melbourne, Australia, and there are plenty of references to local culture and wider statements about Australian life and attitudes.

It’s not the actual ‘slap’ itself that bothers me about this book (it’s fiction, after all, and we read books about murders and child-molesters alongside books about orks and demons without any particular sense of unease) it’s the fact that I really didn’t like the book itself. Sure, you’ve got a nice controversial theme going on, but the fact is that none of the characters in the novel are remotely likeable. I didn’t feel any sympathy for them whatsoever, and some of them were downright clichés! That said, I did finish it and it gave me plenty of food for thought, both about some of the issues raised and the way in which Tsiolkas writes.

I’m really intrigued to see how the Australian TV producers have handled this, so roll on Thursday. If you want to quickly have a stab at the book before the TV series begins, then it’s here: The Slap at Amazon

Let me know what you think of it!

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  1. Claire McDonnell
    October 31, 2011 / 12:10 pm

    I saw the first episode of this and I agree none of the characters are remotely likeable, however, I think I will continue to watch x

  2. October 31, 2011 / 12:20 pm

    I read this earlier in the month, (my review is and I agree with you. It could have been a much better book, but you are completely right, the characters don’t lend themselves to having any sense of likeability whatsoever!
    I hadn’t heard it was going to be televised, so I’ll stick it on series link and see what I think! Thanks for the heads up!

  3. Natasha
    October 31, 2011 / 1:15 pm

    I read the book and disliked it for the same reasons. Fortunately the television series (we’re up to episode 4) is much better. The characters are still terribly unlikable people but that’s kind of the point. I’d love for you to give an update once you’ve seen a few episodes!

    • admin
      October 31, 2011 / 2:40 pm

      @Natasha OK! x

  4. October 31, 2011 / 2:33 pm

    I think I spotted this on iPlayer, read the blurb then decided against it. I am thoroughly intrigued now though. I do think unlikeable characters often leave you wondering why you’re supposed to care about what happens. It’s hard to work out whether it’s done on purpose too.

    • admin
      October 31, 2011 / 2:40 pm

      @ModestyBrown it’s on iPlayer already?! x

  5. Zoe
    October 31, 2011 / 2:55 pm

    I vehemently disliked this book for the same reasons – the characters were all unlikeable – although I’m sure that was intentional.

    The other thing I surprisingly disliked was the langauge. I swear like a sailor – but I actually found the book quite vulgar.

    I think I’d be interested to see the series though, as I agree that the subject matter itelf was very thought provoking.

    • admin
      October 31, 2011 / 4:06 pm

      @Zoe yes, I read some snippets of an interview with the author and it was intentional, but somehow it just didn’t work for me at all. They had very few redeeming features, and that’s not actually very ‘real’! Agree absolutely on the swearing issue.

  6. October 31, 2011 / 3:34 pm

    Yes, the first episode seems to be on there –

    • admin
      October 31, 2011 / 4:04 pm

      Aha! Thanks Jane, I shall have a watch later! xx

  7. October 31, 2011 / 4:26 pm

    I’ve been meaning to read this for quite a while as it is such a controversial issue but I’ve got such a large pile of books to go through. I intend to read it one day though so will not watch the series yet. I always have to do the read first and then any adaptions, films, series etc later. PS I didn’t know it was set in Melbourne. Bonus, it is one of my favourite cities in the whole wide world. So pretty.

  8. Sophia
    October 31, 2011 / 11:05 pm

    I read this book and really didn’t like it while I was reading it, but then after I had to admit that I had been pretty hooked and read it quite quickly, so in that respect it was a pretty good read. I also liked the fact that each chapter is written from a different point of view.
    But I agree that I didn’t like or care about any of the characters, they were all so totally selfish and shallow. However, I don’t think that is anything to do with the way it was written, it’s just that we don’t like the characters – maybe the author is trying to point out that fundamentally humans are selfish creatures…
    However, I enjoyed part one of the tv series (watched it on iplayer days ago) so I will probably watch the rest.

  9. Sophia
    October 31, 2011 / 11:07 pm

    Or rather, that he thinks that certain ‘types’ of people are shallow and selfish…?
    Oh I don’t know!

    • admin
      November 1, 2011 / 12:04 pm

      @Sophia yes, I think that was his intent too. I was also hooked, so I suppose you could say that it’s a success even if it’s unlikeable!

  10. Natasha
    November 1, 2011 / 11:56 am

    I was thoroughly excited to see the TV series was going to be on TV to see how the characters would be portrayed on screen. Like a lot of the comments here, I did not warm to the characters, and the languange and racial views of the characters was sometimes unsettling and extreme. I found the book interesting as it showed how an incident can lead and effect so many different lives and friendships. So I will be watching just out of curiosity!!!

  11. Kate
    November 8, 2011 / 9:19 am

    So interested to read the comments here. I also absolutely loathed this book. I live in Melbourne Australia and felt very embarrassed that readers might think this story was a true reflection of Melbourne society. Really we are quite nice, polite, well mannered and happy people!

    • admin
      November 8, 2011 / 10:22 am

      @Kate interesting!!!! And did you watch the TV adaptation? xx

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