White Teeth

White Teeth

A Novel

Book - 2000
Average Rating:
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Set in post-war London, this novel of the racial, political, and social upheaval of the last half-century follows two families--the Joneses and the Iqbals, both outsiders from within the former British empire--as they make their way in modern England.
Publisher: New York : Random House, c2000
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9780375501852
0375501851
Characteristics: 448 p. ; 25 cm

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f
Folly
Oct 18, 2017

A fantastic story that is wonderfully constructed and written. The story looks at ties (family, religion, culture, country) and the author manages to look at them from all sides without judgement. At times I was wondering where the story was headed as threads seemed to be left dangling but the author never let go of any of them. Superb. One of the best books I've read for quite a while.

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emilyhcox
Mar 27, 2017

Richly complex novel touching on themes of familial bonds and their legacies through a kaleidoscope of imperfect characters.

m
Margush
Sep 13, 2016

Having read this book, I ended up reading everything I could find about its author, Zadie Smith. I wanted to know more about someone who has such an amazing linguistic talent and a great sense of British humour while describing serious matters. For the first time those raving reviews on its back cover didn't disappoint.

t
talltimt
Feb 11, 2016

What a superb debut (2000) novel! I want to call it hilarious, but it delivers no knee-slapping guffaws, just sustained satirical irony lampooning everything, East and West, from war and religion to the use of language, both academic (e.g. those “strange French men who think truth is a function of language”) and every-day (e.g. the ridiculous PC and bureaucratic manipulators of language: “Mr. De Winter, a Polish night watchman--that’s what he calls himself—his job title is Asset Security Coordinator)” to recombinant DNA technology. The story involves three families, often going back generations but focusing on the nuclear families that split apart like bombarded atoms: a middle-aged man of virtually no ability whatsoever who marries a 20-something, otherwise beautiful, half-breed Jamaican with no upper teeth; his best friend, a one-armed Pakistani waiter, his stupid shrew of a wife, and their twin sons who are as different as a London street thug turned religious zealot and a brilliant, Oxbridge-like, polite and charming would-be lawyer; and a “perfect” neo-hippy family of superior intellect, sophistication, and hospitality, the father being the gene manipulator and the mother a self-proclaimed, world-class gardener. As an example of her self-awareness and family insight, I quote: Mother: “But everybody loves [the obnoxious one of the twins], don’t they Oscar (her 5 y/o son)! It’s so hard not to, isn’t it, Oscar? We love him, don’t we, Oscar?” Oscar: “I hate him.” Mother: “Oh, Oscar, don’t say silly things.” That captures the relationship of these two family members as well as illustrating the mother’s blithe way of interacting with the world as she wants it to be, however false to reality. Still, we can’t help loving (most) of these idiots as they stumble through each others’ lives and laughing (or at least chuckling) all the way to an unfortunately unsatisfying conclusion. But how could the farcical story of such a weird mélange of boobs ever be concluded and remain within the scope of its satire? The book just simply has to stop, which is pretty much what it does, but we know that their story just keeps going . . . on . . . and on . . . and on.

WVMLStaffPicks Dec 16, 2014

An extraordinary multicultural romp through the lives of three families living in London, England during the postwar years. Their intermingling is charged with humour, frustration, love, anger -- the complete panoply of human emotions. Smith, who has a Jamaican mother and an English father, lives in the very district of which she writes. May she continue to write with all the vibrant energy that she has brought to her debut.

l
labrys
Jun 21, 2014

While Zadie Smite writes well and her world is full of vibrant details, the chapters are short and the POV shifts quickly between characters lending the novel a fragmented feel. I find her essays much more compelling.

b
bookwormjeph
May 31, 2014

I really enjoyed this initially- for the first 150 pages or so and then became a little bored with it and it felt like it was overly long and focused on the trivial. It was funny, quirky and highlighted real life cultural issues in a sharp edged parody - but ultimately not enough to sustain my interest.

s
smilegirl24
Jul 12, 2012

This book pulled me in early and didn't release me until the very last page. An incredibly detailed, funny, and thoughtful analysis of the position of immigrants in England, White Teeth manages to approach a difficult subject with humor and without offensiveness. Highly reccomended.

s
shizuku_san
Jun 26, 2012

I was surprised at how much the author could trace political and social changes through bread! It was pretty interesting, although I felt like the connection between his research and his conclusion wasn't as clear as it could have been.

c
carmenweiss
Feb 03, 2012

I read this pretty quickly, but don't remember enjoying it all that much.

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Kristin_M_M Apr 06, 2016

Some secrets are permanent. In a vision, Irie has seen a time, a time not far from now, when roots won't matter any more because they can't because they musn't because they're too long and they're too tortuous and they're just buried too damn deep. She looks forward to it.

Kristin_M_M Apr 06, 2016

'It's Science.' Archie says Science the same way he says Modern, as if someone has lent him the words and made him swear not to break them. 'Science,' Archie repeats, handling it more firmly, 'is a different kettle of fish.'

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