White Teeth – Zadie Smith (2000)


In honour of Black History Month, author Zadie Smith’s story of three families of varying ethnic backgrounds living in England. Shifting points of view throughout the book, Smith highlights experiences of different people and different groups of people (immigrants, veterans, the religious right, interracial couples, first generation Britons). Mental health and violence plays an important role in the hyper reality of Smith’s book. Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal are veterans, who were in the war together; Clara Bowden is the daughter of a Jamaican immigrant, escaped from her mother’s ardent Jehovah’s Witness beliefs, and marries Archie. Smith uses a humour, often a dark humour, to highlight the pain and challenges faced by this group, and their children – trying to fit in with the culture of their new land, but without losing the culture of their homelands. It is an eye-opening read for non-immigrants and worth the read. That said, at 480 pages, there are instances where the story lags a little, and the harshness makes for a read that requires more attention than a beach read would need. 

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