But all the characters in The Slap are touchy, and that seems to be part of Tsiolkas’s point – in the Australia of the 21st century, multiculturalism has won. People of all ages, all ethnic groups and all political persuasions are interconnected and intermarried, and, at least some of the time, they just can’t handle it. The Slap, which was first published in Australia in 2008 and has since won the Commonwealth prize, is a “way we live now” novel, and it is riveting from beginning to end.

The premise is this: an obnoxious child does something faintly threatening at a family barbecue, and the father of the threatened child smacks him. Everyone is so upset by this that the barbecue breaks up in a hurry, and within a day, the parents of the slapped child have the slapper arrested. But Tsiolkas’s purpose is not to explore the idea of child abuse; it is to use the family and friendship connections originally limned at the barbecue to look at how love and background come together, and whether outer peace necessarily reflects inner peace.

full review: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/may/08/the-slap-christos-tsiolkas-review

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