Posted by: Lisa Hill | May 17, 2009

The Slap wins Commonwealth Writer’s Prize

The SlapIt’s on page 7  – not the front page – but it’s a whole half-page article in the Sunday Age: ‘Blown away’ Tsiolkas takes prize’.  The Slap winning a writing prize is high profile in a newspaper usually more interested in sport.

At the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival Chris Tsiolkas yesterday was awarded the 2009 Commonwealth Writers Prize for this confronting novel. According to the report, the judges were impressed by ‘the use of the iconic backyard barbecue to examine identities and personal relationships in a multicultural society.’  Nicholas Hasluck (chair of the judging panel) relishes the book for its capacity to ‘challenge readers and provoke debate’ .  Indeed it does,  for we at ANZ LitLovers found that this book stimulated more discussion than any other on our schedule this year, whether we liked the book or not.

Shortlisted finalists were Jhumpa Lahiri (UK) for Unaccustomed Earth (which I thought over-rated); and two others I have yet to read: Mandla Langa (South Africa) for The Lost Colours of the Chameleon; and Marina Endicott (Canada) for Good to a Fault.  (Update 6.4.12: see my review) I hope they appear in local bookshops, or I shall have to track them down online.

I was pleased to see that Mohamed Hanif won the Best First Book prize for A Case of Exploding Mangoes(See my review). This slim novel was excellent, a bizarre satire with echoes of Catch 22.

For more information, see the Commonwealth Foundation’s report.


  1. I’ve been interested in a number of comments re The Slap, that seem to treat it as a child rearing manual ie to slap or not?

    This is a bit like saying that Anna Karenina is all about infidelity.

    I would prefer to see more discussion about whether this works as a novel.

    In the main I think it does, tho I felt that Rosie, who is almost the main character, was not as well depicted as some of the others. I felt that the author had not really got under her skin.

    The majority of characters have been drawn as strong stereotypes, and seem to relate to each other as stereotypes. Tsiolkas is too good a writer to not be aware of what he’s doing. I feel I need to think more about this aspect of the novel.

    On a purely frivolous note, all the Greek men seem to have big, thick ones. Yeah, right.

    I’m glad that Christos has won the Commonwealth. He’s a terrific writer and worth celebrating.


  2. Hello, Carmel, thanks for taking the time to comment:)
    I don’t think Tsiolkas has tackled the issue of slapping per se …it’s not the main focus of the book. Have I given that impression in my review? (
    The issue most in contention in our group was whether these stereotypes were representative (of (Melbourne/contemporary) suburban life or not.


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