The Slap has already won a stack of prizes and awards and most recently was named on the Man Booker Prize Long List for 2010. The book has also generated a lot of discussion amongst Australian readers, bloggers and literary critics and some of my close friends have read the book and have had very strong views on it - but despite all of this I still hadn't read The Slap myself. I've changed all that now though and I am so glad!
The Slap literally starts with a slap. A group of friends and family are gathered in a Melbourne suburban backyard for a BBQ, a children's game of cricket turns feisty and one of the adults slaps a young child who is not his own. From this action we continue to follow the group as they return to their own homes and carry on with their lives.
The book is told in the voices of different characters in alternate chapters and I felt this was a great narrative technique for this book as it helped us see the event at the BBQ from the viewpoint of different players such as the "slapper" himself, the child's mother, the family whose house the BBQ took place at etc...
This book is so rich in detail and characterisation - I felt each character in this book could have been fleshed out even further and had a book devoted just to them. The suburban world is created fully and I felt as though I could walk down the street the next day and run into any of these characters - they felt that alive and real.
The story itself was brilliant - such a simple concept in many ways but it is so complex in the thoughts, views, opinions and emotions it raises in the characters - and readers. This is a book that stayed with me even when I wasn't reading it - and it has definitely stayed with me now that I have finished it. For me, The Slap deserves all of the praise that has come its way - I can't wait to read more from this author.