Although the author's talent is evident and there were some good spots in the story I got to a point where I just could listen no longer. I kept asking myself, where is this going. Answer, nowhere.
Pros: This book had some really interesting and colorful characters. There were laugh out loud moments, especially involving Alsana (my favorite character).
Cons: This story and characters tried really hard to go somewhere and certainly thinks it was a deep book that went somewhere. For me, it never got there. I waited for hours listening... Fading off while the author went on long tangents. The characters never developed. I didn't care about any of them.
Further, the reader was almost impossible to listen to. Her ability to do accents was great, but she was loud and shrill in her natural stance, even when the characters were not. Her voice irritated me so that I needed to walk away frequently or lower the volume or take my headphones out. And she had this back of the throat saliva slapping sound, like a bubble popping behind her tongue that needed to be swallowed. So gross. Drink some water when you narrate!!
This is an astonishingly good novel, with incredibly quirky characters, but I think it's even better heard. This is one of the most creative and superb narrations I've encountered. The narrator is more actress than reader, and she understands just how to get the most out of each word. Switching back and forth between the Kindle version and the Audible, I can see that the narrator also makes the book more clear. I bought this book because it has been so well reviewed by literary critics, but I strongly encourage interested people to listen. As good as it is on the page (and it is), it comes to life through the narration.
Other that the Billy Crystal book this is the only book I couldn't finish since I joined Audible many many years ago. I just couldn't get to where I cared about the characters.
In this novel, Zadie Smith has woven a spectacular narrative around a set of idiosyncratic characters in their daily wacky lives spanning generations. It is a hilarious and yet sometimes frustrating novel (in a good way if that is possible) which encompasses many a human trait. Ridiculous as it sounds, but once you enter this world, it is almost impossible to escape.
The story weaves around two families with the patriarchs having met and formed a lifelong friendship in WWII. As they grow older, marry, migrate, have children, and fight their inner demons, we are presented with a captivating story of London in the 70s, 80s and 90s. It is a very British story that highlights a liberal Englishman and a Bangladeshi immigrant who is overcoming his own unique challenges. The story is made more colorful by the crazy and sometimes violent wives, improbable science, and children of mixed marriages fighting for their own identities.
I loved this story and you will laugh as much as I did whilst reading this wonderful book.
The story was terrific. The narrator"s performance likewise. The editing of the audio file was terrible and distracting. Book chapters aligned in no way whatsoever with the file chapter markers. Section breaks in the text were often edited so closely together that the change in scene was not immediately apparent, because the narration continued as if it were all a single paragraph. This led to a situation where I could not trust what was happening during the climactic scene, because it went back and forth between two scenes across time, and I had come to feel suspicious of any abrupt changes in the narrative. Incredibly distracting, and an example of how lack of attention to the production itself can take away from enjoyment of the text.
Reading this book was for the most part a fabulous experience. I love the way she told such a well entwined story with so much humor and description. The narrator is one of the best I've ever heard. She really really makes the book come alive. The only thing I didn't like was the ending. It felt as if the author suddenly had to rush off to the bathroom so she just ended it as quickly as she could with very little thought to the quality of the rest of the story.
An incredibly sobering story of identity, masterfully delivered. I recommend it for all readers who wish to deepen their understanding of gender and race and culture.