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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.
Smith's characters are all wonderfully unique and terrifically funny.
It seems that while the characters are very rich, and their individual stories are entertaining, there is no apparent plot for the majority of the book.
I tried to get to know the characters, I tried to get into the story...that's just it, I had to try very hard to like this book.
I'm struggling with how to rate this book so I'm giving it three stars, which is my go-to default rating. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Hilary Martin
Rahter boring in certain parts. The end did not feel well thought-out. It's as if Zadie had said to herself: "I''ve got to bring this to a end".Published 12 days ago by Sonia (Sweden)
Exactly as described. Reasonable price. In advertised condition and delivered on time and as agreed.Published 1 month ago by BG
This was an excellent start to my reading challenge for this year. The book takes a look at the intersection of two families in Britain - one English/Jamaican and one Bengali. Read morePublished 1 month ago by D. Belden
adie Smith hit on something wonderful with White Teeth. This was her first published work, and it was big news because she got a huge advance (six figures, if I remember... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Constantly Reading Momma
Fantastic! My second Zadie Smith novel and by far my favorite. It is hilarious and interesting; her character development and use of voices is genius.Published 1 month ago by abi
This book was simply fabulous!! Written with such a focused, witty, funny, charismatic, and intelligent voice, the characters truly come alive. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Rod Hines
Had to read this book for a class, did not enjoy it. That's not because I had to read it, I've had to read lots of books, but enjoyed many. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Hans