- Publisher: QPD; 1st edition (January 1, 2002)
- ASIN: B000HJ0CYS
- Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,548,200 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
The Autograph Man Paperback – January 1, 2002
|New from||Used from|
|Paperback, January 1, 2002||
The Amazon Book Review
Discover what to read next through the Amazon Book Review. Learn more.
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Top Customer Reviews
It's not good. In fact, it's pretty bad. If you wanted a textbook example of the literary sophomore slump, here it is. The story concerns Alex-Li Tandem, a half-Chinese, half-Jewish (Tandem... get it?) dealer in autographs. The main plotline concerns his obsession with the fictitious old film star Kitty Alexander and with obtaining one of her ultra-rare autographs. The central theme, however, concerns Alex's inability to ever deal with the sudden death of his father. This death occurs in the excellent prologue, which forms the first tenth of the book and is really the only part worth reading. Covering Alex's childhood visit to a wrestling match at Albert Hall, complete with interesting digression into the venue's history, this section would have made an excellent standalone short story.
Alas, it is followed by 300+ pages of muddled prose populated by characters that are dreadfully flat and uninteresting. Alex is whiny loser, who is unable to connect with the people around him, seeking solace in the bottle, or in his obsession for autographs.Read more ›
I have decided to sell it to a bargain book shop in the hope that someone can appreciate it more than I have.
After loving her first book, I was deeply hurt by this one. Nothing, absolutely nothing motivated me to continue reading this book and I have finished some real doorstops in my time.
Sorry Zadie but I just didn't like it at all.
The narrative framework of this novel appropriates philosophical systems from two traditions. The first half of the novel adopts the Kabbalistic tree of life, its ten sefirot or spheres. In case the too-obvious symbolism doesn't make an impact on you, Smith makes its patently simple by naming each chapter after each sefirah. If even that's too difficult, Smith provides several Kabbalistic diagrams, which look like they were photocopied from Madonna's notebook. Believe me, Smith's knowledge of Jewish philosophy is about as deep as the red-strings those Hollywood stars wear around their wrists.
The second half of the novel (highlighting the main character's Chineseness) derive its titles from the 'Riding the Bull' sketches, made famous in the west by beatnik Buddhists in the sixties. Following the same old mistake that Buddhism and 'Zen' are synonymous, our Chinese hero (who strangely uses Japanese vocabulary to discuss religion) learns to transcend self, with a lot of slapstick along the way.
The split-framework is intended to highlight the divided heritage of the Chinese-Jewish main character, whose hybrid background allows for endless quips and innuendoes about purity and providence in determining one's political/racial identity. On this theme, Smith is glib rather than insightful.Read more ›
The opening is spectacular, a superlatively funny and sad miniature that taken as short story far outshines the long novel that follows -- exactly the sort of leap forward one might hope for from the author of White Teeth.
Unfortunately, then comes the rest of the book, focused on Alex-Li, a boy in the prologue, now an aimless young man. The novel seems to intend itself as a comedy of self-loathing: Alex and his friends are cinema-addled, emotionally stunted boy-men incapable of separating media fiction from reality, of connecting to flesh and blood women. While not particularly original, this is a vein that's been successfully mined for decades, and there's plenty of peculiar color in the worlds of autograph men and multicultural British Judaism.
The problem, finally, seems to be that the author identifies not with Alex, but with the put-upon (and predominantly off-stage) women in his life. So the tone is not one of self-loathing, but just, well, loathing. The hectoring feel of the narrative collapses our sympathy for Alex. He's presented as a big loser, no more no less. Eventually we cease to care about him, and all the jokes in the world can't help that.
By it's end, the novel disintegrates into pure, frantic farce -- a big disappointment from such a distinctive writer -- but it won't stop me from reading the next one.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Zadie Smith is a fantastic writer, but this book did not hold my attention.Published 22 months ago by ConBat
A Chinese gent becomes Jewish, although he believes in neither the rituals nor its god, the original autograph hound is now an insurance adjuster. and a Black guy is a rabbi. Read morePublished on August 15, 2014 by Woesong
Another success that has followed White Teeth, Zadie put me in the driver's seat to another complex set of people and their circumstances. Read morePublished on October 29, 2013 by S. Curtis
Somehow, Zadie Smith's characters just didn't click for me. I didn't finish the book - though I read over a third of it - so maybe something would have come together if I had... Read morePublished on August 15, 2013 by barbara sullivan
Out of 10 women in ourbook club not one of us wanted to endure this endless drivel about Jews and Goys. Yes it was clever but was it enrertaining or enlightening? NO! Read morePublished on April 16, 2013 by whiner
I'll read anything Zadie Smith writes. Really liked 'On Beauty' and 'White Teeth' and looking forward to NW. Read morePublished on December 17, 2012 by P. Bolton
Not the same caliber as White Teeth, but by no means dull. Zadie Smith writes in a creative way and is able to put to words thoughts that readers don't realize they ever have... Read morePublished on September 13, 2012 by Mirrani
This book touches on so many issues and is so brilliantly executed.I couldn't put it down. The characters are so real you can almost feel yourself in their world. Read morePublished on May 21, 2012 by Chris L-D