At an Australian suburban barbecue, someone has brought along a child of the type that makes you sure you never want children – free to destroy things and hit people as he sees fit, with his parents clucking affectionately over his every action. Until his umpteenth assault of the day when an adult, who is not his parent, slaps him and all hell breaks loose.
Taking this incident as its jump-off point, The Slap then looks at the lives of those attending the barbecue and how, if at all, the incident affects each of them. Which is not at all really, and instead we get to read about garbage people and their garbage children, all behaving like garbage. With each and every one of them being a dickhead of epic proportions – most of them racist and homophobic dickheads too, so that I was jarred by the constant use of fag and wog to describe people – I struggled not to root for all of their lives and reputations to be utterly ruined by the book’s end. I’m fairly certain that these words have the same meaning in Australia as they do here in England, but if there was a point to the author using these as much as he did – other than as short-hand for ‘all of my characters are wankers’ – then I obviously missed it, as well as how this managed to get nominated for literary prizes.
I really don’t know what I took away from this, other than feelings of frustrated rage, and would struggle to recommend it to others.