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Still, the book's home base is a scrubby North London borough, where we encounter Smith's unlikely heroes: prevaricating Archie Jones and intemperate Samad Iqbal, who served together in the so-called Buggered Battalion during World War II. In the ensuing decades, both have gone forth and multiplied: Archie marries beautiful, bucktoothed Clara--who's on the run from her Jehovah's Witness mother--and fathers a daughter. Samad marries stroppy Alsana, who gives birth to twin sons. Here is multiculturalism in its most elemental form: "Children with first and last names on a direct collision course. Names that secrete within them mass exodus, cramped boats and planes, cold arrivals, medical checks."
Big questions demand boldly drawn characters. Zadie Smith's aren't heroic, just real: warm, funny, misguided, and entirely familiar. Reading their conversations is like eavesdropping. Even a simple exchange between Alsana and Clara about their pregnancies has a comical ring of truth: "A woman has to have the private things--a husband needn't be involved in body business, in a lady's... parts." And the men, of course, have their own involvement in bodily functions:
The deal was this: on January 1, 1980, like a New Year dieter who gives up cheese on the condition that he can have chocolate, Samad gave up masturbation so that he might drink. It was a deal, a business proposition, that he had made with God: Samad being the party of the first part, God being the sleeping partner. And since that day Samad had enjoyed relative spiritual peace and many a frothy Guinness with Archibald Jones; he had even developed the habit of taking his last gulp looking up at the sky like a Christian, thinking: I'm basically a good man.Not all of White Teeth is so amusingly carnal. The mixed blessings of assimilation, for example, are an ongoing torture for Samad as he watches his sons grow up. "They have both lost their way," he grumbles. "Strayed so far from what I had intended for them. No doubt they will both marry white women called Sheila and put me in an early grave." These classic immigrant fears--of dilution and disappearance--are no laughing matter. But in the end, they're exactly what gives White Teeth its lasting power and undeniable bite. --Eithne Farry --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
One of the best books I've read in a long time, an epic spanning generations which is gritty but really amusing and topical.Published 2 days ago by Rona
Throughout its extensive length, “White Teeth” covers the tales of three families and three generations over the course of the twentieth century. Read morePublished 17 days ago by Mickey McCaffrey
I enjoyed the multiple characters and their ongoing stories of their lives and experiences.
However, after the return of Magid, everything went downhill and became... Read more
The jumping of perspectives in "White Teeth" is incredibly well-done. At no point did the narrative get diluted or side-tracked by the jumps, and the way that all of it... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Hunter Bishop
Zadie Smith produces another novel like Monica Ali's Brick Lane. The book analyzes the racial issues that are significant sources of antagonism between natural-born Britains and... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Cassandra Woodall
This was a really great novel. I am a bit puzzled by some of the luke-warm reviews that I've read on Amazon. Please do not be discouraged from reading White Teeth yourself. Read morePublished 1 month ago by V Watson
I didn't understand it, that's why I probably didn't like it. Check out more details on my blog. http://theengineeredbaker.blogspot.com/2015/04/march-book-review.htmlPublished 1 month ago by Engineered Baker
Wasn't as good as the hype and it took a while to get going. It was ggod enough that I couldn't quite abandon it - and I did enjoy the second half.Published 2 months ago by Frances Collins