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The Slap

by Christos Tsiolkas

When a man slaps someone else’s child it impacts dramatically on the lives of all who witness the act. The reader is battered by the language as friends and family are divided by the event and hidden anger, passions and conflicting beliefs are brought to the surface. Very much a social documentary on the issues of race and culture in Melbourne brought to life by rapid fire dialogue and a masterly control of multiple threads of narrative.

Extract

Harry set him on the ground. The boy’s face had gone dark with fury. He raised his foot and kicked wildly into Harry’s shin. The speed was coursing through Hector’s blood, the hairs on his neck were upright. He saw his cousin’s raised arm, it spliced the air, and then he saw the open palm descend and strike the boy. The slap seemed to echo. It cracked the twilight. The little boy looked up at the man in shock. There was a long silence. It was as if he could not comprehend what had just occurred, how the man’s action and the pain he was beginning to feel coincided. The silence broke, the boy’s face crumpled, and this time there was no wail: when the tears began to fall, they fell silently.

Parallels

Breath by Tim Winton
The Last Weekend by Blake Morrison
 

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