White Teeth

Read: Yes
Difficulty: II
Length: IV
Importance: III
To Purchase: White Teeth: A Novel

Quick Review: A funny, smart glimpse into the melange of cultures residing within London and the young people growing up among them.

I am ashamed to say, this is my first Zadie Smith novel. I’ve been hearing fabulous things about her for years, and yet I never got around to reading anything by her. I bought this book a few months back, and it had sat on my shelves untouched. I read her short story in The New Yorker and knew I had to read her book immediately. If you can’t tell by the Memorable Quotes section, I loved this book.

White Teeth follows the lives of two men Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal in suburban England, and their children as they struggle to find their place. Archie Jones is a white man who marries a young black Jamaican women; together they have a biracial daughter. Samad Iqbal is a Bangladeshi married to a woman from also from Bangladesh; they have twin boys. Archie and Samad served in the war together, and reconnect when Samad emigrates to the UK from Bangladesh. Their children deal with the difficulties of being mixed and Bangladeshi in a society predominately white.

Smith dives into issues of race, religion, assimilation, and even hair products with depth, insight, and a sense of humor. She writes each character with so much profundity and sincerity it is easy to sympathize with even the least likable people.

I can’t wait to read more of her works.  

Memorable Quotes:
“This was a decided-upon suicide. In fact, it was a New Year’s resolution.”
“No matter what anyone says, suicide takes guts.”
“…making sure they didn’t get too close, scared they might catch religion like an infection.”
“Samad, when the male organ of a man stands erect, two third of his intellect go away.”
“If religion is the opiate of the people, tradition is an even more sinister analgesic, simply because it rarely appears sinister.”
“I think I have been cursed with two sons more dysfunctional than Mr. Cain and Mr. Abel.”
“Greeting cards routinely tell us even-handed deserves love. No. Everybody deserves clean water. Not everybody deserves love all the time.”
“Every moment happens twice: inside and outside, and they are two different histories.”

Title: White Teeth
Author: Zadie Smith
Publisher: Vintage Books
Copyright: 2000
ISBN: 9780375703867

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