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White Teeth (ARC) Unknown Binding – 2000

3.7 out of 5 stars 519 customer reviews

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Unknown Binding, 2000
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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Random House (2000)
  • ASIN: B0052091VW
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (519 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,203,272 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mr. K. Mahoney on April 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This is a first class debut novel, which has made the news due to the huge advance, which the author received - a six-figure number. So, the question seems to be: is White Teeth worth all that money? The answer has to be YES.
White Teeth is a brilliant novel, superbly confident in its execution. It starts off in 1975, the year of the author's birth, with the attempted suicide of Archibald Jones. Anyone who was born in 1970s Britain cannot fail but identify with the characters and events in this book. If you can recall the VW badge craze, then this is the book for you. However, this is not just a novel for the younger generation, for there is at least one extended family in White Teeth, each member of which is brought vividly to life. There's Archibald Jones and Samed Iqbal, who first meet in a British tank in 1945, and who then meet up again thirty years later to start the families featured within White Teeth. There's the brilliant and comic portrayal of the aged Hortense Bowden, an avid Jehovah's Witness, who keeps waiting for the end of the world.
Zadie Smith's novel has been described as Dickensenian, but I think there's a touch of Thackeray in there too. The author mocks her characters, and parodies them, but she also has a lot of compassion for them. No one, in the world of White Teeth, is beyond redemption. Zadie Smith's characters are truly vibrant. Take Samed Iqbal and his troubles with 'slapping the salami'. As a reader, you begin to wonder how Zadie Smith has such insight into the male mind and universe, because it rings so true.
For anyone embarking on a Cultural Studies course, this novel is a must. Throw away your textbooks with their dry statistics!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The word that kept coming to mind as I read this book was "ambitious." Smith ties together a legion of vividly and deeply drawn characters, all with different agendas; several different timelines; a rather byzantine central plot; and commentary on everything from genetic research to high school social hierarchy. It's a lot to swallow in one novel.
She is most adept at drawing her characters--their physical characteristics, quirks and misgivings come alive on the page. Smith also provides sharp, witty insights on pop culture and life in the mixing bowl that is North London.
However, the elaborate character development takes away momentum from the plot, and has the effect of making the plot move in fits and starts. Just when I was starting to enjoy a scene or get into one character's actions, she'd go off on a tangent that seemed to link characters and actions only very remotely to each other. At times it felt a little self-indulgent, like she was admiring her own ability to turn a clever phrase or take the action momentarily off-course and then bring it back again.
By the time I was 400 pages into the book, I was asking, "How in the heck is she going to wrap this all up into an ending?" I think Smith was asking herself the same question at this point. The ending comes off as a bit of a stretch, but she does manage to pull things together reasonably well. Still, after I closed the cover, I said, "huh?" and had to go back and reread some earlier sections to figure out how they tied to the ending.
To me, this book needed a skilled editor who could tighten things up and keep things moving with out taking too much away from the rambling, bildungsroman-esque nature of the plot. It'll be interestesting to see what Smith has to say in her next novel--this one seemed to cover every base, at length.
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By A Customer on June 1, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Zadie Smith's remarkable first novel, White Teeth, deserves all the praise and attention it's gotten since its publication earlier this year. This big, rich multicultural cacophony of a novel is a modern comic masterpiece that brilliantly captures the mixture and conflict of races, ethnicities, cultures, and beliefs in London at the millenium. Moreover, unlike other British writers who sometimes seem condescending and unabashedly full of themselves (Martin Amis and Salman Rushdie immediately come to mind), Zadie Smith's writing is full of good humor and prescient insight into the value of even the most disparate life experiences. Smith anchors her story around the unlikely friendship of an easy-going, seemingly unflappable working-class Englishman, Archibald Jones, and a deep-thinking, serious Bengali Muslim waiter, Samad Iqbal. The two first meet inside a tank in the waning days of World War II. They then reunite thirty years later in North London, two unsuccessful middle aged men living out their lives in O'Connell's Poolroom, "an Irish poolroom run by Arabs with no pool tables." But while the stories of Archie and Samad anchor the narrative, their relationship is only a small part of this hilarious and deeply insightful novel. Zadie Smith, in reviewing her own novel in the British publication Butterfly, described White Teeth as "the literary equivalent of a hyperactive, ginger-haired tap-dancing ten-year-old.Read more ›
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