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Zadie Smith What Am I Missing?

(19 Posts)
CircassianLeyla Sat 31-Aug-13 11:33:10

I didn't really like White Teeth. Not sure why, it just didn't work me and has put me off reading anything else of hers.

LatinForTelly Wed 28-Aug-13 14:17:48

Sorry, its not it's. Ahhh, it's the damn autocorrect.

To hijack briefly, yes eddiemairswife, I found The Unconsoled utterly bonkers and didn't really make sense of it other than that after I finished it, for a bit I could imagine my life being how he wrote the conductor's life (was he a conductor? Read it ages ago). Sort of one event haphazardly tripping into another without much sense. Did you get that feeling?!

Sorry OP, will shut up now blush

SunnyIntervals Wed 28-Aug-13 09:20:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SunnyIntervals Wed 28-Aug-13 09:18:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hackmum Wed 28-Aug-13 08:05:51

I think what she did in White Teeth was amazing for a 24-year old. At that age, people tend to write angsty autobiographical stories but she imagined a rich cast of characters of different ages, ethnicity and social class and weaved their stories together. I thought she was very good at capturing people's different speech patterns and imagining their inner lives. I think both those things (convincing dialogue and creating a believable cast of characters) are both things that it's hard for novelists to do well.

ZaraW Wed 28-Aug-13 07:24:46

Thanks everyone, out of the books I've read White Teeth is the one I would say was ok. Though I am still scratching my head that NW got so many glowing reviews "A Triumph". "The Book of the Century" really?! One review said she had changed her writing style and future novels would be better............

nevergoogle Tue 27-Aug-13 23:34:11

i like her characters and observations but am always disappointed by the predictable plot.

have nw3 on my shelf right now, really don't want to wasted my time on a crap book so might not bother.

TeWiSavesTheDay Tue 27-Aug-13 23:29:05

I love white teeth. I read it as a teenager angsting about being an immigrant baby. She gets a lot of that totally spot on, IMHO, and I really enjoyed the story she built around that disconnected feeling.

Not all that keen on her other books, but I still really rate White Teeth.

eddiemairswife Tue 27-Aug-13 22:41:08

I read White Teeth and loved it. Found The Autograph Man alright, but absolutely hated On Beauty; it is one of the very few books I couldn't be bothered to finish, along with The Unconsoled by Kazuo Ishiguro. Has anyone tried that and made sense of it?

SunnyIntervals Tue 27-Aug-13 22:30:18

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LatinForTelly Tue 27-Aug-13 22:28:29

I read The Autograph Man first and thought it was fab. Original, gripping story, great characters, nicely paced, poignant.

Have since read White Teeth and On Beauty and, although I enjoyed them, didn't think they were as well-written.

I think she herself has said that she wishes she had used more restraint in White Teeth. But I found it funny, with good dialogue, and probably for it's time, fairly original. Similar really for On Beauty. Thought they were both a bit flabby though.

itsallshitandmoreshit Tue 27-Aug-13 20:01:26

I really like her. I loved white teeth and NW, have On beauty on my bookshelf. I think she's a brilliant modern storyteller finding the fascinating in the mundane. I wish I could write like her.

LongGoneBeforeDaylight Tue 27-Aug-13 15:28:02

On Beauty is my favourite book ever. The scope of all it covers, the ear for dialogue. I absolutely love it.

Runandbecome Tue 27-Aug-13 15:21:20

Totally agree - just finished NW and thought it was dull.

Pantone363 Tue 27-Aug-13 15:11:15

I don't get it either

Didn't finish On Beauty, it mocks me from my bookshelf.

Greythorne Tue 27-Aug-13 14:59:20


On Beauty is a retelling of Howard's End. How she had the audacity I will never, ever know.

KellyHopter Tue 27-Aug-13 14:21:07

On the basis of On Beauty: not a lot!

SunshineBossaNova Tue 27-Aug-13 14:19:57

I've read White Teeth and another book - I think it was The Autograph Man.

I was a bit meh about both of them. I read them once and took them down the chazza smile

ZaraW Tue 27-Aug-13 11:13:55

I read White Teeth a good few years back and thought it was OK not great and then after read On Beauty which I found tedious. Thought I would give her books another chance as the reviews on the cover of her latest book NW were so glowing (interestingly not so much on Amazon).

Characters not well developed, story boring and relieved to get to the end. What am I missing? Why is she considered so good I find her writing pretentious and mediocre at best.

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