January online ebook club – The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

the slapI’ve had The Slap on my ‘To-read’ list for a while now so I was more than happy to read it for our January online ebook club. The slap has had such mixed reviews with many labeling it overrated with completely unlikeable characters. I actually loved it and it made me wonder, am I so cynical and jaded that I didn’t find the behaviour of the characters all that shocking?
True, I doubt there would be that many people all in one place with that many dark secrets but I do think that most people are very different behind closed doors and this book brings that theme out wonderfully. Whether we like it or not, the actions of these characters do happen in our everyday society.

I also wouldn’t say that every character was unlikeable. I didn’t particularly hate Manolis, Connie or Richie and I could actually relate to Anouk, being unmarried and childless myself. The only crime these character’s committed was to occasionally think bad thoughts (and let’s be honest – who hasn’t done that). Personally, I hate fiction where the characters seem to be perfect in every way – it just doesn’t accord with reality. I found this book refreshing in that regard.

If I did hate one character, it was actually the slapper ‘Harry’. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but if you read the book, you’ll understand why. I couldn’t find anything remotely likeable in him. I have to wonder if Tsiolkas did this deliberately. In the first chapter, the reader is left feeling a little sorry for Harry as he appears to slap the child as a knee-jerk reaction in defence of his own child. It begs the question, are you still on Harry’s side when you know what kind of person he is? How much does our like or dislike for a person cloud our judgment of their actions?

As for the slap itself, I really can’t say if it was warranted or not. My gut instinct would say no, it wasn’t but it wasn’t worth taking Harry to court over either, or, given what we find out about Harry later on in the book, was it?

You’ll have to read it to make your own judgment.

Has anyone read this book?

What did you think?