A NovelBook - 2001
The questions and author biography that follow are intended to enhance your group's discussion of Zadie Smith's White Teeth , a funny, generous, big-hearted novel dealing--among many other things--with friendship, love, war, three cultures, three families over three generations, and the tricky way the past has of coming back and biting you on the ankle. It is a life-affirming, riotous, must-read of a book.
Zadie Smith’s dazzling debut caught critics grasping for comparisons and deciding on everyone from Charles Dickens to Salman Rushdie to John Irving and Martin Amis. But the truth is that Zadie Smith’s voice is remarkably, fluently, and altogether wonderfully her own.
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. Look for Zadie Smith’s new book Swing Time, available now.
Baker & Taylor
Set in post-war London, this novel of the racial, political, and social upheaval of the last half-century follows two families--the Joneses and the Iqbals, both outsiders from within the former British empire--as they make their way in modern England. A first novel. Reprint. 200,000 first printing.
Set in post-war London, this novel of the racial, political, and social upheaval of the last half-century follows two families--the Joneses and the Iqbals, both outsiders from within the former British empire--as they make their way in modern England.
From the critics
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Some secrets are permanent. In a vision, Irie has seen a time, a time not far from now, when roots won't matter any more because they can't because they musn't because they're too long and they're too tortuous and they're just buried too damn deep. She looks forward to it.
'It's Science.' Archie says Science the same way he says Modern, as if someone has lent him the words and made him swear not to break them. 'Science,' Archie repeats, handling it more firmly, 'is a different kettle of fish.'
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