Home > Literature, Reviews > Review of White Teeth by Zadie Smith

Review of White Teeth by Zadie Smith

White Teeth

Published in 2000, this is about the closest I come to reading contemporary mainstream fiction. But on the basis of this novel, I probably ought to read more.

White Teeth is, I suppose, a saga about two or three families living in Willesden Green (‘This train terminates at – Willlllesden Grreeen‘ – ah, the happy voice on the Jubiliee Line) – Samad and Archie, World War Two veterans, their wives Alsana, to whom Samad has been betrothed since before she was born, and Clara, daughter of a Jamaican Jehova’s Witness; and their children, Irie and twins Magid and Millat. (The third family is the Chalfens, but they don’t really figure in the story until halfway through.) It takes place generally over the last quarter of the 20th Century, with flashbacks to earlier periods.

And, most notably of all, it’s simply a good read from beginning to almost the end (the final scene is a confluence of various disparate plot threads, and is rather too unlikely, abrupt and ultimately anti-climactic). It’s often amusing, and occasionally outright funny, the many characters are drawn warmly and honestly, and it adds up to an interesting picture of modern multi-cultural Britain and the strains that puts of people and families.

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