Three cheers for ChristosMarch 12, 2009
Speaking of cruelties and betrayals and food-filled family gatherings, I am so pleased at Christos Tsiolkas winning of the regional Commonwealth Writers’ Prize last night for The Slap , his brilliant novel in which a man smacks another bloke’s vile child at a family barbecue, and hell breaks loose all over Melbourne as a result.
I love that book for its wild, sprawly portrait of contemporary Australia, its compassion and its ambition. I love it exactly as much as I love Helen Garner’s The Spare Room, for its almost completely opposite qualities – the restraint and careful spareness of the writing, exactly right for the piano-wire anxiety and taut, profound misery of caring for a dying person. Both were in contention for the prize, along with Joan London’s really beautiful novel, The Good Parents, among others.
I would have been just as glad had The Spare Room won. But three cheers for Christos, who sounds to have been his characteristically charming self at the ceremony, paying tribute to the other writers.
Christos has contributed a story for the anthology about siblings that I’m editing for Allen & Unwin (it will be published at the end of this year). Like The Slap, it’s an absolute corker.