50 Book Challenge: #46, NW by Zadie Smith

One of my favorite books ever is Zadie Smith’s third novel, On Beauty.  Although Smith broke out on the scene with her debut novel, White Teeth, getting critical acclaim from the likes of Salman Rushdie, something in On Beauty spoke to me.  So needless to say, I was thrilled to learn that Smith was coming out with a new novel and this time (much like her British counterpart) it was to be based in the area in which she grew up.

Before I cracked the spine I went against my rules and listened to a talk with the author on CBC when she was visiting Toronto.  The interview only proved to intrigue me more and although I thought I was prepared for what was to come, when I finally sat down with it, that was surely not the case.

Set in NW, a part of London that isn’t the most affluent, the book follows the stories of three main characters; Leah, Keisha (or Natalie as she is now known) and Felix.  All growing up on the same council estate, their lives all end up surprisingly different and the book joins the characters in their 30’s to tell their varying stories.

The book deals with many hot button topics while telling a story of love, growth, devastation and inner city life.  Although the story is a very compelling one, the way in which it’s told is interesting and at times frustrating.  It’s written in various styles, that force the reader to pay attention – for example, no quotations for speech in the first part and then switching to a story told through numbered subheadings in the last.  Although I’m no pro (making me totally unqualified to critique) this playing with genres made me, at times, want to put it down.

With that being said, it’s always good to push your boundaries and if you’re looking for a book with a good story that will make you contemplate the traditional structure of the novel, check out NW.





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2 thoughts on “50 Book Challenge: #46, NW by Zadie Smith

  1. I love when you post book reviews.
    I’m actually re-reading On Beauty right now – it’s my favourite of her books (I hated White Teeth) but I’m going to check this one out next. I’ve got a lot of time to kill these days while I wait for these babies to cook 🙂

    1. Thanks, Max! My book reading has increased as well with all of these long sleepless nights. Hoping this baby is just about well done and doesn’t want any extra simmering. Hope you and your little bundles are doing well!

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