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White Teeth ❴Read❵ ➳ White Teeth Author Zadie Smith – Liversite.co.uk Published in the first month of the first year of the new century Zadie Smith's debut novel White Teeth winner of the Guardian First Book Award and the Whitbread First Novel Award was an immediate bes Published in the first month of the first year of the new century Zadie Smith's debut novel White Teeth winner of the Guardian First Book Award and the Whitbread First Novel Award was an immediate bestseller and stunningly acclaimedOne of the most talked about fictional débuts of ever White Teeth is a funny generous big hearted novel adored by critics and readers alike Dealing among many other things with friendship love war three cultures and three families over three generations one brown mouse and the tricky way the past has of coming back and biting you on the ankle it is a life affirming riotous must read of a book'Funny clever and a rollicking good read' Independent 'An astonishingly assured début funny and serious I was delighted' Salman Rushdie'The almost preposterous talent was clear from the first pages' Julian Barnes Guardian'uirky sassy and wise a big splashy populous production reminiscent of books by Dickens and Salman Rushdie demonstrates both an instinctive storytelling talent and a fully fashioned voice that's street smart and learned sassy and philosophical all at the same time' New York Times'Smith writes like an old hand and sometimes like a dream' New Yorker'Outstanding A strikingly clever and funny book with a passion for ideas for language and for the rich tragic comedy of life' Sunday Telegraph'Do believe the hype' The Times'Relentlessly funny idiosyncratic and deeply felt' GuardianZadie Smith was born in north west London in Her debut novel White Teeth won the Whitbread First Novel Award the Guardian First Book Award the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction and the Commonwealth Writers' First Book Prize and was included in TIME Best English language Novels from to Her second novel On Beauty was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Orange Prize for Fiction She has written two further novels The Autograph Man and NW a collection of essays Changing My Mind and also edited short story anthology The Book of Other People Zadie Smith was chosen by Granta as one of its twenty best young British novelists in and as well as to Granta has contributed writing to the New Yorker and the GuardianZadie Smith's new novel NW is available from September .

10 thoughts on “White Teeth

  1. Ben Ben says:

    White Teeth is an expansive detailed and beautifully written attempt to encapsulate the social chaos that blossoms at the bridging of generational national and sexual mindsets It reminds me very much of the freeflowing histories written by Maruez and Allende as well as Salman Rushdie's strange little one off treatise on cultural alienation Fury Samad in particular reminds me uite a bit of Fury's Malik SolankaSmith does many things well She has a serious ear for dialogue and accent she knows how to manage the flow and pacing of a story and she's uite skilled at employing large concepts genetic manipulation immigrant psychology the concept of history itself both as fact and as metaphor Her cast of characters is varied and nearly every one of them comes off as a fully flesh and blood human being However it's in terms of these personalities that I feel she makes her biggest misstepZadie Smith is what I'd call an Ironist I don't mean this in the Mark Twain Kurt Vonnegut Jon Stewart sense I don't mean that she's a comedian I mean it in the sense that the territory she stands on that her narrator in White Teeth stands on is one whose boundaries are staked out in terms of what she is not My friend Brandon commented below that Smith shows blatant contempt for every character except the one who is clearly based on the author While I understand where he's coming from I don't think it's contempt per se On the contrary I think Smith has deep feelings for most of her characters even the despicable ones like Crispin and Millat I think that what Brandon interprets as contempt is something far ambiguous let's call it detached superiorityThe Ironist defines herself through the process of over defining others Every character in this novel is over defined over drawn While this provides us with a great at times excruciating level of detail it also paints each of them into a kind of cage wherein all of their actions are predictable Each of them has a sort of final vocabulary cf Rorty that defines the limits of what they might do or say the doctrines of Islam and the Watchtower Society of PETA or clinical science In the worst cases their adherence to these vocabularies allows Smith to slip them into easy types see Mr Topps Crispin Joshua Marcus the various members of FATE Smith creates her authorialnarrative identity what's called a metastable personality by passively proving that she is not limited by such a final vocabulary and that in escaping their confines she has a broader comprehensive view of the social workings of the world This is generally speaking the goal of any omniscient narrator but the way that Smith goes about writing this one in particular imparts a certain sense of smugness the parenthetical asides to the reader the knowing winks the jokes at the expense of easy targets that isn't always presentThe metastable personality is the natural reaction to uncomfortability with final vocabularies but it itself is of course just as self defining as any of them albeit in the opposite direction It instinctually yearns for instability but prefers to admire chaos from afar rather than living in it The metastable personality knows that in order to maintain coherence it must remain stable and that the only way to remain stable is to balance itself on the disbelief of all known final vocabularies Smith writes off worldview after worldview but is of course unable to articulate her own because her own is simply the absence of adherence to any such worldviewThis isn't so much a criticism of Smith's work as it is an explanation of why it is the way it is and why it can be read as contempt

  2. Paul Bryant Paul Bryant says:

    One star? Of course this is not a one star wretched ignominous failure this is a mighty Dickensian epic about modern Britain But not for me It's a uestion of tone I have now tried to read this one twice and each time I find I'm groaning uietly and grinding my teeth Zadie Smith's omniscient narrator alas for me has an air of horrible smirkiness like a friend who just can't help pointing out all the less than pleasant attributes of everyone else all in the name of life affirming humour allegedly but gradually wearing you down Didn't anyone get sick of this apart from me? I hear this kind of humour in current British comedy all the time When it's cranked up to the max and runs at 200 miles an hour it's great as in the recent political satire movie In the Loop recommended but when it's on a low leisurely level as in a big sprawling novel it just gets on my wick It might be a symptom of the cultural cringe I discuss a propos The Age of Elegance British writers can no longer take their country and culture that seriously they feel somehow that it's just not very cool and so their default attitude is self deprecation You don't get this in big novels about modern America American Pastoral We Were the Mulvaneys and The Corrections and Freedom spring to mind Franzen for instance uses humour all the time and excoriates large areas of American society but there's no perpetual undermining of his own characters for the sake of inexpensive laughs My head says I should like White Teeth but my heart says Zadie Smith was a literary ad man's dream come true For a good funny book about multicultural Britain see The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi For a great review of White Teeth which elouently puts the case against whilst trying not to see Ben's review herehttpwwwgoodreadscomreviewshow

  3. Leslie Leslie says:

    As many other reviewers have commented I wanted to like this book than I did It approached greatness in many ways the clever and often hilarious dialogue the uirky characters the creative family histories the rich and convincing place descriptions and so on Despite the strengths of each of these parts as a whole the book fell far short of greatness It took me until the final pages to figure out what was missing for me I did not genuinely care about most of the characters I did not feel sympathy for them or root for them or have my own ideas of how I hoped things would turn out This is likely due to the many many story lines at play in the novel story lines that span a hundred years in some cases But it still felt unacceptable to me that the book begins with one of the most intimate moments a person can experience though it is treated with humor and closes with an eually major event in the life of that same character yet we hardly KNOW this character He is a central presence on page one and the final page but he is lost in between While I laughed at Joyce Chalfen Alsana Abdul Mickey Magid Hortense and a dozen amusing and creative characters I felt no emotional connection to them at all The biggest disappointment perhaps was the disappearance of Clara's voice from the pages They remained though entertaining very flat to me The only character I sincerely rooted for and felt drawn to was Irie Jones Her story alone though it does not emerge until the second half of the book made the novel worth reading to meI was intrigued enough by Zadie Smith's writing to give her other works a try but I closed the book last night with a definite sense of a letdown

  4. Darwin8u Darwin8u says:

    “the wicked lie that the past is always tense and the future perfect” ― Zadie Smith White TeethI planned on writing my full review of this book a couple days after I read it in October of 2014 I was afraid however if I wrote it immediately it would be too sappy too indulgent too full of praise I would probably just go on and on and you all might think I was in love or something So like I am want I put the review off meaning to get to it and here I am finally writing about the book almost two years after I first read it I don't know if the delay points towards my sometimes best laid plans falling and failing or my anal need to complete the circle and check things off listsSeriously the book was fantastic I loved it It was a big hairy kinky ambitious first novel and Zadie Smith pulled it off I'm not sure why I'm reading so many novels McTeague concerned with dentistry and teeth lately A bit weird Anyway enoughI'm glad I waited however because Zadie Smith seems to posses for England that same fresh breath that Lin Manuel Miranda exhibits with his musical Hamilton Sometimes a place is best described by immigrants to that place Sometimes the change that happens to a city or nation because of immigrants is hard to measure in the first couple years Just look at London now London has elected its first Muslim mayor This has to do with some of the huge demographic changes than with a super multiculturalism in London but it still isn't nothing I remember reading a short article in the Guardian a while back that pointed out that in regards to Muslim Hindu and Sikh “the three groups share many areas in common but the Punjabi Sikhs in Southall and southeast London the Gujarati Hindus in northwest London and the Bengali Muslims in Tower Hamlets stand out most of all” The Guardian I loved realizing the London of Pepys Dickens and Shakespeare was now a completely different place It was a place where the colonized were becoming the colonizers It was a giant geography of Karma and not in a bad way We often never fully grasp the bad and the good and the unintended of our decisions and policies I'm pretty damn sure ueen Victoria and those who advised her and followed her NEVER saw this coming as they began the British Raj I love how 'White Teeth' swirls and dances and dervishes with ideas of race identity and religious antagonism The book is a fiction of course but the competition between ethnicities even while the white majority loses their shit is not fiction Even though 'White Teeth' debuted as the 21st century was dawning it painted a fictionalized but very real novel about the struggles America England and Europe are going through right now Think of Europe and America's reaction to Muslim refugees the hostility of the right to Barack Obama citizenship and race the fear that drives the radical right agendas from Hungary to Norway as Western Europe and Western Civilization loses gradually their majority lock on political and demographic power When the mayor of London and the President of the United States of America wouldn't have been allowed to eat in the same high brow London and New York clubs as presidents and mayors did 60 years ago it is kinda amazing to see how far we've come However it is also humbling when you read blogs comments and hell just watch Trump on Fox News There is a certain shaded infinity of how far we still need to goAnyway back to 'White Teeth' The brilliance of this book is Zadie Smith addresses all of this with humor beauty and narrative magic She avoids the twin traps of triviality and preachiness She spins a fascinating yarn that entertains while pushing the reader to grapple with the realities that were faced by Archie Jones and Samad Ibal in 1945 and the realities we faced when Obama was elected and the problems we all currently face Fundamentally I believe things become a lot simpler when we can view people as individuals Viewing Zadie Smith as an individual it is easy to see her brilliance her potential and her ability from her first book to play with the big boys of English fiction The future is already here and Zadie Smith is just waiting for history and the rest of us to catch up

  5. Samadrita Samadrita says:

    There are parts of this book fully deserving of unadulterated love and veneration worthy of 4 stars in the least The fact that the real Indian Jamaican and Bangladeshi diaspora are reproduced here and not the imagined Indian Jamaican and Bangladeshi diaspora of white writers too reluctant to put in the reuisite amount of research for getting the most inconseuential tidbits right has much to do with it In addition Zadie Smith succeeds in keenly evoking their history language cultural ethos the stench of their festering old wounds inflicted by an undo able past and their bizarre hypocrisies making the leap across land and oceanic borders into alien territory exempted from being dissected by the scalpel of 'western reason' in the name of minority rights There's the undeniable truth of centuries of conditioned servility hatred of the power which established the ground rules of the abusive relationship called colonialism and the unfathomable responsibility of bearing the burden of yesterday they can't help but reenaact the dash they once made from one land to another from one faith to another from one brown mother country in to the pale freckled arms of an imperial sovereign There's the Bengaliness of the family to be religiously guarded against the sallies of Western liberalism; imminent dilution of the much treasured Bengali DNA in the gene pool staved off at all costs And there's war to be waged on foreign territory for another inch of land another notch up on the dignity scale for yet another step of the socioeconomic ladder Whenever stung by the prick of casual racism whenever thwarted they will go back to their institutionalized tendencies of seeing things in black and white and studiously avoiding mentions of a gray area; they won't think twice before disregarding their favorite Gandhiji's famed 'An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind' They will seek out the greener pastures of first world optimism but resist synthesis tugging at the roots of old grudges again and again so that the present and the now can be drawn and uartered on the altar of historyAnd then you begin to give up the very idea of belonging Suddenly this thing this belonging it seems like some long dirty lieand I begin to believe that birthplaces are accidents that everything is an accidentBut then there are the 'just roll with it' parts which deserve no than 2 stars the cocksure and smug tone in which the narrator recounts this multi generational saga of families caught in the chaos of modern day materialism vs heritage the unrealistic often two dimensional characterization and the zany Britcom feel to the episodes which warrants a suspension of disbelief and gives rise to the nagging suspicion that this was written with the idea of a film or tv series adaptation in mind As much as Smith's light hearted tongue in cheek clever mockery of roots and righteous reliance on said roots for existential validation is absolutely legitimate and spot on it is awfully disingenuous to think roots can and should be so easily discarded Assimilation reuires time and the immigration conundrum will never be felt as acutely by second generation immigrants like Smith herself as by their progenitors This is where I prefer Jhumpa Lahiri's narrative voice her later works over Smith's no inflection of moral and intellectual superiority no pronouncing of judgement on flawed choices but a restrained attempt at humanizing all characters Since the 4 star and 2 star ratings are eually bona fide in my eyes a 3 star it is More so because I can't remember the last time a woman writer of contemporary literary fiction made me laugh so hard

  6. Dan Dan says:

    This book started bad for me and just got worse I found the characters to be boring and two dimensional Actually even worse the author tried to build up the characters in most cases though doing a poor job I'd say but then later reduced their roles to caricatures So even those I was inclined to like wound up irritating me every time they opened their mouthsFurther Smith's style is all over the place At times I found it indulgent and pretentious others fawningly resembling other authors and the style would sometimes change abruptly from one paragraph to the nextI find what what often at least partially redeems books like this is an interesting plot Not so in White Teeth There's no real story arc to hold the book together The plot kind of twisted along for a while and I couldn't really tell where it was going Then it ends in this bizarre attempt to draw all of the characters and threads together which totally fails as a climax I would have been irritated about this particular point but I was so happy I was done with the book I was inclined to forgive it than was deservedI truly don't understand what all the hype was over this book There is lots I can forgive especially in a first novel but there wasn't nearly enough here to convince me that Smith is a great writer who just needs some time to come into her own There were a few interesting ideas and notions but they were isolated and swamped by a thousand other boring ones not to mention cliches unclever witticisms and tired plot devicesI could go on but I rather forget I ever read this Gah

  7. Sean Barrs Sean Barrs says:

    The last time I read a book with this much narrative confidence power and authority was back in January when I tackled Midnight’s Children It's rare that a book comes with a voice this strong Like Rushdie’s novel Smith creates a present that is pervaded by the past Her characters are very aware of their ancestry and they really struggle to reconcile with it in the modern world Are they Indians? Are they British? Are they black or white? Or are they a little bit of everything? Because of their duality they struggle to find themselves in the modern metropolis They don’t uite know who they should be so they cling to and project ideas they are far removed from And it’s all a little tragic to see such confusion “They cannot escape their history any than you yourself can lose your shadow” Every character Smith has conjured up here could be someone you’d encounter in real life; they are all very real people and they are faced with some very real problems However the issue I had with the novel is that we simply do not stay with them for long enough for them to develop We glimpse them nothing I’d even hesitate to actually call this a novel; it’s like four loosely related novellas slapped together with a very small amount of glue to bind them It’s close on collapsing As such this doesn’t have a plot per say It’s like four separate character studies And it does work to an extent; it captures a large part of the contemporary space but as a novel it feels fragmented with little to no cohesion Some sections were better than others with characters who were flawed and interesting to read about To make this a little clearer I feel like I need to write four seperate reviews in order to talk about his book properly and rate each section differently I’m not going to do that but I hope you get my point; it’s uite a difficult book to talk about because it doesn’t feel like a normal book Smith followed a similar model in NW but that came together as it captured the city is what trying so hard to evoke whereas this feels very much apart I can see why many other users on here have chosen not to rate it It's a very powerful debut but I did not enjoy all of it A mixed bag for me Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Insta | Academia

  8. Petra-Eggs Sunny Side Up Petra-Eggs Sunny Side Up says:

    Just because everyone says it's good doesn't make it readable Just because it has an 'ethnic' plot doesn't make it realistic Just because it's about ordinary people doesn't make it believeable And just because I read it only a couple of months ago doesn't make it memorable Three stars because it might have been that good I've forgotten all but the general gist of the book

  9. Barry Pierce Barry Pierce says:

    Oh Zadie Smith be still my beating heart I devoured this fabulous novel Smith is truly a master of plot and her ability to capture the voices of each individual character is inspirational Never before have I read a novel which such a rich and diverse dramatis personae I fear that this review is going to become a list of superlatives so I'll uell it here by saying I loved this and I need to read Smith now

  10. RandomAnthony RandomAnthony says:

    I'm about a decade late to Zadie Smith's White Teeth one of those books friends recommended or I picked up at the library then put back and moved on to a different title My reticence to read the novel revolved around the plethora of book clubby texts that could best be classified as “somewhat patronizing novels about other cultures featuring triumph in the face of great poverty and hardship” I hate these books But White Teeth turns out be an example of where those novels fail and a sun surface hot writer can embrace the complexity inherent in both the smaller and larger narratives of multiple generations Zadie Smith's talent and enthusiasm are tangible; she writes like she's bouncing up and down in her seat White Teeth is as much about inertia as free will Samad and Archie brought together by their bad luck and uestionable soldiering circumstances spend much of their time in a decrepit English pub Archie marries a Jamaican woman he meets on a stairway at a stranger's New Year's Day party Samad's wife Alsana and Archie's wife Clara form a careful friendship The friends' children are first generation English carrying histories and expectations; Samad and Alsana's twin boys and Archie and Clara's daughter inhabit the no man's land between tradition and the present that really is everyone's land uestions of loyalty tradition and identity emerge in the flash of conflict and creaking inevitable societal evolution As Alsana notes circumstances emerge in which people are involved to use her word without intention but without uestion When the two families encounter the white affluent Chalfens the cheeriest most cluelessly evil parents I may have ever encountered in literature twin brothers reunite or at least occupy the same country and the book's last hundred pages race to a thriller esue ending that while not tying every loose end left me feeling as if I had read a singular satisfying novel Smith doesn't rely on easy obvious immigration issues to drive White Teeth; she goes much deeper into characters' minds and families without preachingI hope I'm not making White Teeth sound pious In fact I would argue Smith wrote the novel in part as a reaction to the piety that obscures truthful narrative She builds each character from the ground up and knows when to move from one to the next I'm also not sure if I understood every metaphorical nuance; I'm not English Bengali Muslim or a Jehovah's Witness all elements intrinsic to the storyline so I most likely missed symbolic elements While I don't want to minimize the immigrant experience white readers I believe feel some of the same vertigo as the characters when navigating a landscape with different cultural touchstones eg signs in Polish and Korean up and down Chicago's Milwaukee Avenue Zadie Smith doesn't praise or criticize these landscapes She focuses on the fear and hope inherent in characters' reactions to the stimuli The players can't control the landscape as much as accept and respond to it This is a sprawling well structured novel White Teeth is a near masterwork the best book I've ever read about different cultures' slow tectonic plate like creep past toward and into each other

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