“Bogan, doone, arvo, dag, yobbo, mussie, wog”….Christos Tsiolkas, the author of Greek origin and identified as an Australian author, manages to introduce some characteristics of Australian English through his choosings of vocabulary in his novel The Slap. Published in 2008, the book became an international bestseller.
The book club agreed on the visual qualities of the plot – the book could be easily seen as a film format. And we came to learn that Tsiolkas is actually a recognised screenwriter, and the book has been made to a film.
Tsiolkas introduces events that take place in Melbourne, the Australian city that seems to have a variety of multicultural families and friendships. There are descendants of Greek (Hector, Manolis), Indians (Anouk) and Brits (Connie), to mention but a few. We come to learn that Australian is not solely a person from Perth, but identities are formed in the dialogues with other cultures.
The events of the book start from a barbeque party, where a man slaps a child of 3 years old across the face. The child is not of his own. The story is constructed through voices of different characters – The chapters are named after eight persons who all witness the slapping in the party.
Reader is asked questions such as what is a modern family about? Where goes the limit for marital rights and obligations? The slap does not leave the reader aside but constantly asks: Whose side are you on?
Some of the book club members liked the book a lot, whereas some found the language rather vulgar and unapproachable. This is what the book is about – Tsiolkas exaggerates, pushes some persons to their limits and leaves the reader a bit flabbergasted. Yet, there are also true survivors in the story, such as a teenager called Connie. She seems to possess the qualities that make you miss the best moments of the teenage years.