'The Slap' is an Australian book-club novel which is piled high in bookstores and supermarkets across the country. This ''controversial'' novel has the tagline 'Whose side are YOU on?' in this WAR of suburbia which Tsiolkas supposedly creates. It's dull though.
The story is a drudging tale which focuses on 'the slap' at an Australian BARBIE (BBQ to you and me), and its effects across a family and community. It's even been made in to a TV series - it's supposedly just THAT shocking. It isn't though. The slap comes from a place of anger, and is supposedly an issue between the adults - it becomes a lot more, but Tsiolkas relies on other plots - affairs, sexuality - to keep the plot going and to make more money on what I can only assume was a dollar-a-word contract. The book goes on interminably for four-hundred and fifty pages, full of pub meetings, ladies' lunches and 'controversial' opinions.
Save yourself the pain - go outside and slap a child and watch the outcome. It will be ten times more entertaining than this novel.
Vernon God Little
This won the Booker Prize in 2003 and thus 2003 will always be remembered as the year the judges went on a cocaine binge. picked up the worst book in Borders the next morning and slapped a sticker on it.
This first-person 'bildungsroman' (if that word has come to mean the story of an idiot who changes in no way throughout a shit novel) recounts the story of Vernon Gregory Little, who flees Mexico after his friend carries out a high-school shooting ('oh, how topical!' I hear you say). What is implausible about the whole story is how there is no reason to believe Little would have been persecuted for an attack he had nothing to do with. The characters are caricatures, the violence and drug misuse of a oh-so-woeful teenage life is something so generic and in any teen fiction novel that there really is no need. The book (I literally can't bring myself to call this a novel) relies on stereotypes and banality, constantly trying to make direct and brutal, profound statements on consumerism and media, when really Pierre just plays into the already toppling pile of awful books in this vein.