This bestselling winner of last year’s Commonwealth Writers’ Prize is largely set in suburban Melbourne during John Howard’s recent premiership. Dozens of characters are introduced in the first chapter as they arrive at a barbecue, one of many Australian clichés challenged and confirmed in equal measure. This party is the setting for the dramatic slap of the title, delivered by a man to a spoilt young child.
The story is told from eight viewpoints, including those of druggie school-leavers and an elderly Greek grandfather. This gives each chapter the intensity of a long short story, though the chapters relate just as any novel’s should. The predictable version would have been eight perspectives on the same