I have started to read 'The Slap' by Christos Tsoilkas and it is proving to be quite a good read. As an Australian, Tsiolkas seems determined to write in contrast to what he sees as 'dry / academic' european modern literature. Certainly, this book is a good read and I am sure it is well written. I have to admire Tsiolkas that he champions Updike's 'Couples' as an example of the best type of writing there could be.
The book has been described as 'soap-opera like' and it is certainly gripping, it reminds me at times of a film the it tries to bring in twists and turns. It also changes narrator each chaptor. Tsiolkas tries to say that writing needs to be more engaging - rather than escapist.
Isn't it ironic that on the back of my book, one of the reviews from the Daily Telegraph says 'The ideal summer read; escapist, funny and clever'!
I also heard this idea being proposed by Lionel Shriver, that we need books to engage rather than creating an escape. But by engaging, does that mean we are only allowed to read books about the current time, in our current location, if it does it is quite restrictive. What if I read a story about life in a Yugoslav army camp before the Serbian wars - is that escapist or engaging, what about a story about russia in the 1900s featuring a side story about time travel? Perhaps as long as the story is written recently.
I don't know but it there does seem to be a trend towards 'engaging' writing at the moment.