Australian Tsiolkas wins Commonwealth writers prize


June 18, 2010 Updated May 16, 2009 at 4:11 PM EDT

Australian author Christos Tsiolkas was announced Saturday as the 2009 winner of the Best Book prize at the prestigious Commonwealth Writers' Awards.

Tsiolkas won for his work "The Slap," a tale about middle-class suburban Australia and its notions of child-rearing and acceptable behaviour.

Pakistani writer Mohammed Hanif won the Best First Book Award for "A Case of Exploding Mangoes," which takes a spin on why a Hercules C130 aircraft crashed on August 17, 1988, killing Pakistan's military dictator General Zia ul Haq.

The awards, marking the best fictional works from throughout the Commonwealth, were announced at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival.

"The Slap," which earlier won the Southeast Asia and Pacific regional prize, is told from the points of view of eight people who were present at a suburban barbecue where a man slaps a child who is not his own.

The slap and its consequences force them all to question their own families and the way they live, their expectations, beliefs and desires.

Tsiolkas, who lives in Melbourne, has written three novels and several plays.

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