The Slap, by Christos Tsiolkas

Set in Australia, this begins with a garden party where Hugo, a 4 year-old kid, gets slapped by the parent of another child.

I believed that this book had been critically lauded, and I think it did win a prize, but after reading it I see on Amazon that it is not exactly a runaway success with readers, and I see why.

Hugo was pretty repulsive, so I didn't have a great deal of sympathy with him: it felt like the slap was deserved - or at least understandable - after the way he behaved (he was about to hit someone with a shovel). Presumably this is deliberate, so that whether or not it was right to slap Hugo is left for the reader to agonise over.

I'd assumed that the story would document the rippling effects of the slap on Hugo, but while there was a bit of this, much of the book didn't have any connection to that event, except for the characters. Because the book was written as a set of eight long-ish chapters, each focusing on one person (not including Hugo, but including the person who slapped him). There was no overlapping of time in these narratives: it was rather like having a single camera documenting the weeks after the garden party by focusing on one person at a time.

Some of the chapters were moderately interesting, but a couple were pretty dull (in particular, the one about the old Greek guy who I think was the father of the slapper -I guess there must be a sizeable Greek community in Melbourne, because there were quite a few Greek characters). But it was more like a series of long-ish standalone stories.

It was quite long, and not fantastically gripping, and I struggled to stay with it. It also had quite a lot of sex and explicit language which seemed unnecessary.

Not sure why it got so much critical attention, but at least I'm not the only person who felt that way.

Completed : 8-December-2016 (audiobook)

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