[Zadie Smith] ¹ White Teeth [algiers PDF] Read Online ↠´ One star Of course this is not a one star wretched ignominous failure, this is a mighty Dickensian epic about modern Britain But not for me It s a question of tone I have now tried to read this one twice and each time I find I m groaning quietly and grinding my teeth Zadie Smith s omniscient narrator, alas for me, has an air of horrible smirkiness, like a friend who just can t help pointing out all the less than pleasant attributes of everyone else, all in the name of life affirming humour, allegedly, but gradually wearing you down Didn t anyone get sick of this apart from me I hear this kind of humour in current British comedy all the time When it s cranked up to the max and runs at 200 miles an hour, it s great, as in the recent political satire movie In the Loop recommended but when it s on a low leisurely level, as in a big sprawling novel, it just gets on my wick It might be a symptom of the cultural cringe I discuss a propos The Age of Elegance British writers can no longer take their country and culture that seriously, they feel somehow that it sjust not very cooland so their default attitude is self deprecation You don t get this in big novels about modern America American Pastoral , We Were the Mulvaneys and The Corrections and Freedom spring to mind Franzen, for instance, uses humour all the time and excoriates large areas of American society, but there s no perpetual undermining of his own characters for the sake of inexpensive laughs My head says I should like White Teeth but my heart says Zadie Smith was a literary ad man s dream come true For a good, funny book about multicultural Britain, see The Buddha of Suburbia by Hanif Kureishi For a great review of White Teeth which eloquently puts the case against, whilst trying not to, see Ben s review herehttp www.
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There are parts of this book fully deserving of unadulterated love and veneration, worthy of 4 stars in the least The fact that the real Indian, Jamaican and Bangladeshi diaspora are reproduced here and not the imagined Indian, Jamaican and Bangladeshi diaspora of white writers too reluctant to put in the requisite amount of research for getting the most inconsequential tidbits right has much to do with it In addition, Zadie Smith succeeds in keenly evoking their history, language, cultural ethos, the stench of their festering old wounds inflicted by an undo able past, and their bizarre hypocrisies making the leap across land and oceanic borders into alien territory, exempted from being dissected by the scalpel of western reason in the name of minority rights There s the undeniable truth of centuries of conditioned servility, hatred of the power which established the ground rules of the abusive relationship called colonialism, and the unfathomable responsibility of bearing the burden of yesterdaythey can t help but reenaact the dash they once made from one land to another, from one faith to another, from one brown mother country in to the pale, freckled arms of an imperial sovereignThere s the Bengaliness of the family to be religiously guarded against the sallies of Western liberalism imminent dilution of the much treasured Bengali DNA in the gene pool staved off at all costs And there s war to be waged on foreign territory for another inch of land, another notch up on the dignity scale, for yet another step of the socioeconomic ladder Whenever stung by the prick of casual racism, whenever thwarted, they will go back to their institutionalized tendencies of seeing things in black and white and studiously avoiding mentions of a gray area they won t think twice before disregarding their favorite Gandhiji s famedAn eye for an eye will make the whole world blindThey will seek out the greener pastures of first world optimism but resist synthesis, tugging at the roots of old grudges again and again so that the present and the now can be drawn and quartered on the altar of history And then you begin to give up the very idea of belonging Suddenly this thing, this belonging, it seems like some long, dirty lieand I begin to believe that birthplaces are accidents, that everything is an accident But then there are thejust roll with itparts which deserve no than 2 stars the cocksure and smug tone in which the narrator recounts this multi generational saga of families caught in the chaos of modern day materialism vs heritage, the unrealistic, often two dimensional characterization and the zany Britcom feel to the episodes which warrants a suspension of disbelief and gives rise to the nagging suspicion that this was written with the idea of a film or tv series adaptation in mind As much as Smith s light hearted, tongue in cheek, clever mockery of roots and righteous reliance on said roots for existential validation is absolutely legitimate and spot on, it is awfully disingenuous to think roots can and should be so easily discarded Assimilation requires time and the immigration conundrum will never be felt as acutely by second generation immigrants like Smith herself as by their progenitors This is where I prefer Jhumpa Lahiri s narrative voice her later works over Smith s no inflection of moral and intellectual superiority, no pronouncing of judgement on flawed choices but a restrained attempt at humanizing all characters Since the 4 star and 2 star ratings are equally bona fide in my eyes, a 3 star it is More so because I can t remember the last time a woman writer of contemporary literary fiction made me laugh so hard.
As many other reviewers have commented, I wanted to like this book than I did It approached greatness in many ways the clever and often hilarious dialogue, the quirky characters, the creative family histories, the rich and convincing place descriptions, and so on Despite the strengths of each of these parts, as a whole the book fell far short of greatness It took me until the final pages to figure out what was missing for me I did not genuinely care about most of the characters I did not feel sympathy for them, or root for them, or have my own ideas of how I hoped things would turn out This is likely due to the many, many story lines at play in the novel story lines that span a hundred years in some cases But it still felt unacceptable to me that the book begins with one of the most intimate moments a person can experience though it is treated with humor and closes with an equally major event in the life of that same character, yet we hardly KNOW this character He is a central presence on page one and the final page, but he is lost in between While I laughed at Joyce Chalfen, Alsana, Abdul Mickey, Magid, Hortense, and a dozen amusing and creative characters, I felt no emotional connection to them at all The biggest disappointment perhaps was the disappearance of Clara s voice from the pages They remained, though entertaining, very flat to me The only character I sincerely rooted for and felt drawn to was Irie Jones Her story alone, though it does not emerge until the second half of the book, made the novel worth reading to me.
I was intrigued enough by Zadie Smith s writing to give her other works a try, but I closed the book last night with a definite sense of a letdown.
the wicked lie, that the past is always tense and the future, perfectZadie Smith, White TeethI planned on writing my full review of this book a couple days after I read it in October of 2014 I was afraid, however, if I wrote it immediately it would be too sappy, too indulgent, too full of praise I would probably just go on and on and you all might think I was in love or something So, like I am want, I put the review off meaning to get to it and here I am finally writing about the book almost two years after I first read it I don t know if the delay points towards my sometimes best laid plans falling and failing, or my anal need to complete the circle and check things off lists.
Seriously, the book was fantastic I loved it It was a big, hairy, kinky, ambitious first novel and Zadie Smith pulled it off I m not sure why I m reading so many novels McTeague concerned with dentistry and teeth lately A bit weird Anyway, enough I m glad I waited, however, because Zadie Smith seems to posses for England that same fresh breath that Lin Manuel Miranda exhibits with his musical Hamilton Sometimes, a place is best described by immigrants to that place Sometimes, the change that happens to a city or nation because of immigrants is hard to measure in the first couple years Just look at London now London has elected its first Muslim mayor This has to do with some of the huge demographic changes than with a super multiculturalism in London, but it still isn t nothing I remember reading a short article in the Guardian a while back that pointed out that in regards to Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh, the three groups share many areas in common, but the Punjabi Sikhs in Southall and southeast London, the Gujarati Hindus in northwest London, and the Bengali Muslims in Tower Hamlets stand out most of all The Guardian I loved realizing the London of Pepys, Dickens and Shakespeare was now a completely different place It was a place where the colonized were becoming the colonizers It was a giant geography of Karma, and not in a bad way We often never fully grasp the bad and the good and the unintended of our decisions and policies I m pretty damn sure Queen Victoria and those who advised her and followed her NEVER saw this coming as they began the British Raj I love how White Teeth swirls and dances and dervishes with ideas of race, identity, and religious antagonism The book is a fiction, of course, but the competition between ethnicities, even while the white majority loses their shit is not fiction Even though White Teeth debuted as the 21st century was dawning, it painted a fictionalized but very real novel about the struggles America, England, and Europe are going through right now Think of Europe and America s reaction to Muslim refugees, the hostility of the right to Barack Obama citizenship and race, the fear that drives the radical right agendas from Hungary to Norway as Western Europe and Western Civilization loses gradually their majority lock on political and demographic power When the mayor of London and the President of the United States of America wouldn t have been allowed to eat in the same high brow London and New York clubs as presidents and mayors did 60 years ago, it is kinda amazing to see how far we ve come However, it is also humbling when you read blogs, comments, and hell, just watch Trump on Fox News There is a certain shaded infinity of how far we still need to go.
Anyway, back to White Teeth The brilliance of this book is Zadie Smith addresses all of this with humor, beauty and narrative magic She avoids the twin traps of triviality and preachiness She spins a fascinating yarn that entertains while pushing the reader to grapple with the realities that were faced by Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal in 1945, and the realities we faced when Obama was elected, and the problems we all currently face Fundamentally, I believe, things become a lot simpler when we can view people as individuals Viewing Zadie Smith as an individual it is easy to see her brilliance, her potential, and her ability from her first book to play with the big boys of English fiction The future is already here and Zadie Smith is just waiting for history and the rest of us to catch up.
The last time I read a book with this much narrative confidence, power and authority was back in January when I tackled Midnight s Children.
It s rare that a book comes with a voice this strong Like Rushdie s novel, Smith creates a present that is pervaded by the past Her characters are very aware of their ancestry, and they really struggle to reconcile with it in the modern world Are they Indians Are they British Are they black or white Or are they a little bit of everything Because of their duality, they struggle to find themselves in the modern metropolis They don t quite know who they should be, so they cling to and project ideas they are far removed from And it s all a little tragic, to see such confusionThey cannot escape their history any than you yourself can lose your shadow Every character Smith has conjured up here could be someone you d encounter in real life they are all very real people and they are faced with some very real problems However, the issue I had with the novel is that we simply do not stay with them for long enough for them to develop We glimpse them, nothing I d even hesitate to actually call this a novel it s like four loosely related novellas slapped together with a very small amount of glue to bind them It s close on collapsing As such, this doesn t have a plot per say It s like four separate character studies And it does work to an extent it captures a large part of the contemporary space, but as a novel it feels fragmented with little to no cohesion Some sections were better than others, with characters who were flawed and interesting to read about To make this a little clearer, I feel like I need to write four seperate reviews in order to talk about his book properly and rate each section differently I m not going to do that, but I hope you get my point it s quite a difficult book to talk about because it doesn t feel like a normal book Smith followed a similar model in NW but that came together as it captured the city is what trying so hard to evoke whereas this feels very much apart I can see why many other users on here have chosen not to rate it It s a very powerful debut, but I did not enjoy all of it A mixed bag for me Blog Twitter Facebook Insta Academia This book started bad for me and just got worse I found the characters to be boring and two dimensional Actually, even worse, the author tried to build up the characters in most cases though doing a poor job, I d say , but then later reduced their roles to caricatures So even those I was inclined to like wound up irritating me every time they opened their mouths.
Further, Smith s style is all over the place At times I found it indulgent and pretentious, others fawningly resembling other authors, and the style would sometimes change abruptly from one paragraph to the next.
I find what what often at least partially redeems books like this is an interesting plot Not so in White Teeth There s no real story arc to hold the book together The plot kind of twisted along for a while and I couldn t really tell where it was going Then it ends in this bizarre attempt to draw all of the characters and threads together which totally fails as a climax I would have been irritated about this particular point but I was so happy I was done with the book, I was inclined to forgive it than was deserved.
I truly don t understand what all the hype was over this book There is lots I can forgive especially in a first novel, but there wasn t nearly enough here to convince me that Smith is a great writer who just needs some time to come into her own There were a few interesting ideas and notions, but they were isolated and swamped by a thousand other boring ones, not to mention cliches, unclever witticisms, and tired plot devices.
I could go on, but I rather forget I ever read this Gah
Oh Zadie Smith be still my beating heart I devoured this fabulous novel Smith is truly a master of plot and her ability to capture the voices of each individual character is inspirational Never before have I read a novel which such a rich and diverse dramatis personae I fear that this review is going to become a list of superlatives so I ll quell it here by saying, I loved this and I need to read Smith now.
At The Center Of This Invigorating Novel Are Two Unlikely Friends, Archie Jones And Samad Iqbal Hapless Veterans Of World War II, Archie And Samad And Their Families Become Agents Of England S Irrevocable Transformation A Second Marriage To Clara Bowden, A Beautiful, Albeit Tooth Challenged, Jamaican Half His Age, Quite Literally Gives Archie A Second Lease On Life, And Produces Irie, A Knowing Child Whose Personality Doesn T Quite Match Her Name Jamaican For No Problem Samad S Late In Life Arranged Marriage He Had To Wait For His Bride To Be Born , Produces Twin Sons Whose Separate Paths Confound Iqbal S Every Effort To Direct Them, And A Renewed, If Selective, Submission To His Islamic Faith Set Against London S Racial And Cultural Tapestry, Venturing Across The Former Empire And Into The Past As It Barrels Toward The Future, White Teeth Revels In The Ecstatic Hodgepodge Of Modern Life, Flirting With Disaster, Confounding Expectations, And Embracing The Comedy Of Daily Existence I m about a decade late to Zadie Smith s White Teeth, one of those books friends recommended or I picked up at the library then put back and moved on to a different title My reticence to read the novel revolved around the plethora of book clubby texts that could best be classified as somewhat patronizing novels about other cultures featuring triumph in the face of great poverty and hardship I hate these books But White Teeth turns out be an example of where those novels fail and a sun surface hot writer can embrace the complexity inherent in both the smaller and larger narratives of multiple generations Zadie Smith s talent and enthusiasm are tangible she writes like she s bouncing up and down in her seat White Teeth is as much about inertia as free will Samad and Archie, brought together by their bad luck and questionable soldiering circumstances, spend much of their time in a decrepit English pub Archie marries a Jamaican woman he meets on a stairway at a stranger s New Year s Day party Samad s wife, Alsana, and Archie s wife, Clara, form a careful friendship The friends children are first generation English carrying histories and expectations Samad and Alsana s twin boys and Archie and Clara s daughter inhabit the no man s land between tradition and the present that, really, is everyone s land Questions of loyalty, tradition, and identity emerge in the flash of conflict and creaking, inevitable societal evolution As Alsana notes, circumstances emerge in which people are involved, to use her word, without intention but without question When the two families encounter the white, affluent Chalfens, the cheeriest, most cluelessly evil parents I may have ever encountered in literature, twin brothers reunite or at least occupy the same country , and the book s last hundred pages race to a thriller esque ending that, while not tying every loose end, left me feeling as if I had read a singular, satisfying novel Smith doesn t rely on easy, obvious immigration issues to drive White Teeth she goes much deeper into characters minds and families without preaching.
I hope I m not making White Teeth sound pious In fact, I would argue Smith wrote the novel in part as a reaction to the piety that obscures truthful narrative She builds each character from the ground up and knows when to move from one to the next I m also not sure if I understood every metaphorical nuance I m not English, Bengali, Muslim, or a Jehovah s Witness, all elements intrinsic to the storyline, so I most likely missed symbolic elements While I don t want to minimize the immigrant experience, white readers, I believe, feel some of the same vertigo as the characters when navigating a landscape with different cultural touchstones, e.
g signs in Polish and Korean up and down Chicago s Milwaukee Avenue Zadie Smith doesn t praise or criticize these landscapes She focuses on the fear and hope inherent in characters reactions to the stimuli The players can t control the landscape as much as accept and respond to it This is a sprawling, well structured novel White Teeth is a near masterwork, the best book I ve ever read about different cultures slow, tectonic plate like creep past, toward, and into each other.