Synopsis: The story travels through Jamaica, Turkey, Bangladesh and India but ends up in a scrubby North London borough, home of the book’s two unlikely heroes: prevaricating Archie Jones and intemperate Samad Iqbal. They met in the Second World War, as part of a “Buggered Battalion” and have been best friends ever since. Archie marries beautiful, buck-toothed Clara, who’s on the run from her Jehovah’s Witness mother, and they have a daughter, Irie. Samad marries stroppy Alsana and they have twin sons.
Title: White Teeth
Author: Zadie Smith
Pub Date: 30th November 2000
I borrowed White Teeth from a friend eight months ago – I only recently got round to reading it. I officially have the most ridiculous TBR list. Ever.
Once I did get round to reading it, I fell in love with Smith’s writing from the get go. The dialogue is hilarious and I didn’t stop chuckling throughout the entire novel, much to my family’s annoyance. My 31-year-old brother and I rediscovered the joys of terms such as ‘spam-in-your-face’ and ‘you chief!’.
What I loved most about the book is the realistic reflection of the 2nd generation immigrant child in the London. The confused attempt to fit into two completely different cultures at the same time makes for hilarious reading and is something I could easily relate to. Smith creates the perfect balance of the parents’ determined attempt at instilling ‘good’ culture into their children with the inevitable immersion into the ‘new world’.
“They have both lost their way. Strayed so far from what I had intended for them. No doubt they will both marry white women called Sheila and put me in an early grave”
The characters aren’t heroic and you don’t really love any of them, but they were warm, funny, misguided, and entirely familiar. You become the fly on the wall that hears everything and can’t help but get attached, despite their many flaws.
The quirky characters, creative family histories and brilliant dialogue makes this a charming read and one that easily gets 5-stars. When I get my hands on Zadie Smith’s other novels, I definitely won’t be waiting eight months to read them.