Book Review: White Teeth

book review


Author: Zadie Smith

Genre: Literary Fiction

Synopsis: Goodreads

Rating: ★★★★☆

This is my very first Zadie Smith novel and she did not disappoint. I mean, Zadie Smith definitely knows how to write and it’s one of the most interesting and insightful aspects of this book. The way she crafts emotion and the scope of human experience with such humor but also beauty and wit with a touch of irony is beyond amazing.

In essence, this story is a family saga about Archie and Samad and their families throughout World War II and all the way up to the 90’s. All of these characters are rich and well-developed that they feel like 3-D characters. But because they are so fleshed out, I felt like some of the characters lost a lot of their time in the spotlight especially Claire, Archie’s wife. If you’re someone who needs a definitive plot, this book might not be for you because it touches more on specific moments in these character’s lives like when Archie decides to commit suicide (not a spoiler, it’s in the summary lol). This is also a slow-burning book, I’ll admit that the first chapter was a little off putting because I wasn’t following a definitive beginning, middle, and end but once I got used to that, I wanted to keep reading. I also never realized how much humor this book would have. She just has the perfect balance of humor and seriousness.

Throughout these character’s experiences, Smith gives commentary on so many topics including faith, religion, gender, and immigration. Smith is so adept at seeing the beauty and despair of human life but she also captures the absurdity of it with such clarity and humor that you can’t help but laugh at how unpredictable life can be.

Thursday Quotables #1

thursday quotables

Thursday Quotables is a weekly meme made by Bookshelf Fantasies where you write about a quote that sticks out to you, preferably from what you’re reading right now.

My quote this week comes from White Teeth by Zadie Smith.

Now, how do the young prepare to meet the old? The same way the old prepare to meet the young with a little condescension; with low expectations of the other’s rationality; with the knowledge that the other will find what they say hard to understand, that it will go beyond them (not so much over the head as between the legs); and with the feeling that they must arrive with something the other will like, something suitable. Like Garibaldi biscuits.

I love this quote because of how true it is. There’s a certain bias when it comes to the young judging the old and vice versa. I find that it shows sometimes, how hard it is to communicate with someone who feels so different than you whether it’s an age barrier or cultural barrier. If you’re young, this person is older than you feels more knowledgeable and more experienced but at the same time so out of touch with what is relevant right now that you feel he/she can’t relate to you. But I like this quote because the judgement from both parties is the same even though we feel like we’re talking to very different people.

What do you think of this quote?