2016 TBR Pile Challenge: The Slap

I already walked away from one of my 2016 TBR Pile Challenge books: The Grapes of Wrath.

So even though I badly wanted to stop reading The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas, I read until the bitter end.

The premise of The Slap is that, at a suburban BBQ in Australia, a pain in the ass kid gets slapped by someone who is not his parent. This one moment obviously has repercussions for everyone involved, which becomes clear as the fallout is described by eight of the people who were there.

The one saving grace about this book is that it was readable. The dialogue was sharp, the language wasn’t convoluted and I could get through some pages if I sat down with it for a bit.

The problem was that I didn’t want to.

Even the last night that I was reading it, I had an overwhelming urge to throw the book across the room.

I don’t need to like characters to spend time with them. Some great books are written about some terrible people. But Tsiolkas’ characters were racist, misogynistic, cruel, intolerant and gross. The male characters (with one exception) all looked at women as things to have sex with, had incredibly archaic ideas about marriage and family and had impressive cruel streaks in them. The women all put up with men who were terrible to them, felt like they were whores for enjoying sex and had no backbone at all.

Reading The Slap did nothing to make me want to visit Australia. Tsiolkas writes about his homeland with bile and bitterness, describing people as trash or snobs or as immigrants (like that’s a bad thing).

In the middle of the book, when one of his female characters cries wolf about having been raped, I almost walked away. It wasn’t even a useful plot device as almost nothing comes of it and what does happen, literally happens in the last 10 pages. But it’s so incredibly irresponsible – it just furthers the myth that women cry rape all the time and it shouldn’t be taken seriously. PLUS, the other women don’t believe it anyway, which again, is so damaging.

And the sex! Every section has so much sex. Which again, I’m not a prude, I don’t care. But come up with some better language. Reading the c-word over and over, reading about cocks every other page…it’s jarring and gets old fast.

I am so glad to be done with this book. Now I wish I had stuck with The Grapes of Wrath so I could have walked away from The Slap.



14 thoughts on “2016 TBR Pile Challenge: The Slap

  1. Yes!! I think I wrote the same things in my review. It was like he just threw things in there for the sake of making drama. “I’ll put some sex here and some drug use here for no apparent reason and then people will like it!”

    • Exactly. And what was the deal with his hatred of women? I was so enraged by his portrayal of women as sex objects or whores or questioning their choices because they liked sex. I think at one point he actually had one of the women think about how she usually pretends like someone else is forcing himself on her to get through rough sex with her husband and I was like “WHAT?! NO!”

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  3. Booooooo! This does not sound like a good read. I hope you have something delightful to follow it with. I knew I didn’t like the premise of this when they tried to make it a tv show last year. Maybe it’s time to read the Queen of the Tearling?

    Side note – you’re killing us on this TBR list. I finally at least knocked another off my 2015 list!

    • This book made me SO MAD. I’m still so annoyed that I spent so much time with the damn thing. I was excited about the TV show but I’m pretty sure that I will never watch it.
      I try REALLY hard to read at LEAST one of these books a month to stay on track.

  4. Great last line!
    I *did* walk away from this one after the first few chapters. Like you, I feel like I can handle some pretty unlikeable characters and some pretty graphic stuff, but there has to be *something* redeemable about the book, and I just couldn’t see it coming. It was just depressing (way more depressing than Grapes of Wrath). Glad I didn’t finish it. Or pick it back up, since I have heard a few people talk about how good it is, which made me think I should give it another try. No, thanks.

  5. I love that you had such a visceral reaction to this one! I absolutely loved it when I read it back in 2010. And you must watch the Australian TV show; it’s not the same as the book.. The production values are amazing and it was by far the best thing on the BBC when it was screened a few years ago.

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  8. Wow! This may be the only time I ever make this comment but it sounds like the movie was WAY better than the book.I shouldn’t say movie- it was a mini-series earlier this year. Did you see it? I’m not saying the show was perfect but it had a lot more nuance and a lot less sex that what you’re describing. I thought it was well done but I will not be reading the book!

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