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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.
It's a well written never ending collection of stories. Very funny and entertaining but at the same time annoyingly unreadable. Read morePublished 18 days ago by skincarelove
fascinating and brilliant writing. Much depth in very unusual characters.Published 1 month ago by eve B. Goldschmidt
This book is hit and miss for me. Lots of really great poignant pieces of writing and also a ton of extraneous information, while, well written, adds nothing to the story. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
This story started out promising but actually became something I plodded through. The ending was then way too fast, almost a cut-off. Very disappointed.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
I expected a better novel from Zadie Smith. I had to drag myself to finish it, just to say I had read it. Read morePublished 2 months ago by J Cather Weaver
There is much humor in this complex story about the challenges mixed races face in daily living. The pace of the book is steady but keeps one's interest because you cannot possibly... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Abigail