Monday, May 13, 2013

Zadie Smith and The Best of British Book Club

Share on :
By Jane Mansfield

The Washington Post is quoted to have called Zadie Smith "a postmodern Charles Dickens" And this after her very first novel, "White Teeth".

Now the name Charles Dickens, much like the maligned Shakespeare, may fill you with horror and dread (depending on your English teacher, I presume!) but, whatever your reaction, it is a fact, cast in concrete, that both of these men were damn fine story tellers. Their characters are rich, complex and totally fascinating; their plots carrying you along in a whirlwind of see-saw emotions, more often than not, sprinkled with a liberal dash of heartening comedy. In addition, both Dickens and Shakespeare have left behind tales tightly entangled in our history, culture and heritage dynamic glances into a world that is simultaneously foreign and yet all too familiar. Two great writers to cherish and reverenow, let me add a third!

"White Teeth" is the very first novel by Zadie Smith. Published in 2000 when she was just 24, it is a remarkable epic which serves to remind us that London is a bubbling cauldron of different cultures: a casserole of vibrant flavours, spicy nuances and substantial ingredients.

The protagonist, Archie Jones, has given up on his tiresome, plodding, failure of a life. But even his attempt at suicide is a failure. Happily for the reader, Archie is afforded another go at life. And it is this 'second chance' that we are invited to share. A beautiful Jamaican wife (Smith is herself is half Jamaican) is introduced as is a daughter, Irie. And so we have the melting of cultures and the resultant concoction brings with it a fascinating read, much laughter and a deep sense of sorrow once the novel is finished.

Samad Iqbal is a Muslim whose arranged marriage results in two polar-opposite twins, Magid and Millat. Together with their gutsy mother, Alsana, they introduce even more thought-provoking strata's to this novel involving gender, heritage, history and status. It is a brilliantly realistic view of the hodgepodge of folk who have come to make London the cosmopolitan, creative, cross-cultural hub we know and must come to love. The characters are cherished by Smith and she invites you to share their lives without sugar coating but with a fair few belly laughs.

Having published four novels, all of which have received acclaim and all of which I would thoroughly recommend, I have absolutely no hesitation in agreeing with The Washington Post: Zadie Smith is, indeed, a Dickens of our times.

A great way to keep on top of what is popular in the novel stakes is to join a book-club near you. I regularly attend Home House's monthly book-club, which is where I got the inspiration to write about White Teeth. I'm already looking forward to May's book, which will be Oscar & Lucinda by Peter Carey.

About the Author:


Post a Comment

@ 2012 GoBuyingBook.Blogspot.Com | Reviews and Buying Guide Book
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...