It’s a book that doesn’t make it easy for the reader. You think you know what’s right and wrong? You’ve got your values straight? Well, The Slap might make you rethink things. It won’t let you take the easy road and declare that violence against children is wrong. It won’t let you take the equally easy, parallel road and profess that political correctness is gone mad and the stress-free upbringing revolution is already devouring it’s children.
Why not? Isn’t it true? Which one?
Neither is the whole truth. Without a context, they’re both empty statements.
Tsiolkas’ book provides a context, a very particular one, not necessarily a pleasant one, but one that’s full of complexity. Within that context the two straight roads suddenly reveal themselves as twisty, bumpy lanes that don’t run so parallel to each other anymore. In fact, they threaten to cross.
Who is harming whom? Is the act more important or the motive?
I wouldn’t go as far as to say that The Slap is a great book. It’s not a book I feel like rereading. But it certainly made me rethink some of my beliefs, and that’s an achievement. And it made me wary of being self-righteous — and that’s always a good thing too.