Drawing you in with the immediacy of her tantalizing wit, Zadie Smith sets herself apart as a defining voice of contemporary literature. Her internationally acclaimed novel boldly and humorously bridges three London families across a cultural and generational divide.
©2000 Zadie Smith; (P)2001 Recorded Books
"The scrambled, heterogeneous sprawl of mixed-race and immigrant family life in gritty London nearly overflows the bounds of this stunning, polymathic debut novel." (Publishers Weekly)
The intertwining of 3 English families at the close of the last millenium is the subject of this novel that is both thoughtful and light-hearted. The lives of Jamaican and Bangladeshi immigrants are recorded along with the inevitable conflicts between these immigrants and their offspring who grow up in England. A real tour de force.
This was one of the best audio books I've listened to. The narrator was fantastic, doing a variety of different accents really well. The story was interesting and engaging, (although at times it felt like it strayed a little too far from topic and the characters rants became a bit tedious). At times it was laugh out loud hysterical. The language is probably what set this book apart for me -- the dialects, colloquialisms, and plenty of Bengali and English cursing - just funny. But more than that...thought provoking and enlightening -- I felt like I learned a lot about what it feels like to be an immigrant, always a stranger where you live. The author does a terrific job of presenting several differing and relatively extreme viewpoints on God/religion, which I did not expect and enjoyed.
It's quite long, which I also liked - the main story covers about 20 years or so, but there is also a great deal of character history (Bengal, India, Pakistan, Jamaica) included too. It's a fun ride - worth the time.
A great overview of multicultural society. Many voices that can be heard: views of different cultures brilliantly shown to the reader and, even more so, to the listening audience of the audiobook. You actually CAN HEAR those multicultural voices and see their diversity and divergence. I downloaded the book because I thought I should read it, and then, gradually, I have been drawn into it and loved its many voices and viewpoints. It's both poignant and funny, sarcastic and understanding at the same time.
It may be long, but it is really good.
I believe a reviewer should finish a book before submitting a review. What do you think?
A story of a mouse with man-made tumors and the scientist who made him, twin boys (one who is irresistible to women of all ages), a Bengali family, some Jehovah's witnesses, two lesbians, a few animal rights activists, two veterans of WWII, a failed suicide, lots of recreational drug use, and more. All this in a sometimes funny and poignant story.
The narrator is very good with the various accents and he held my interest throughout.
I truly enjoyed this book and really like this author.
White Teeth defies description. If you have no sense of humor don't bother. Many spots will cause a giggle and broad smile to cross your face. Then there those that you will undoubtedly laugh out loud. Way fattening if it were edible.
Characters I found to be well developed and lovable. As for a plot, that didn't come clear to me til part three.
All in all this is a unique and addicting novel. Already I know that I'll be listening again, and again. Surely this penning will never grow old.
Now Ms Zadie Smith is there a follow up to White Teeth?
I am so glad I downloaded the audio version of White Teeth because I doubt I would have gotten as much out of (or ever finished) the book. The narration adds a whole new level to the characters.
Yes, this book is long, but come on people, what a mind! Smith has a brilliant way of bringing up modern questions and concerns wrapped up in subtle humor and over the top personalities.
60, Working Class autodidact Slow reader but well read. Audio Books have taken me from 25 books a years to 125 a year and has also allowed me to listen to many books that I would perhaps not have ever read. e'g Don Quixote, Uysses etc.
Yes because its range of character from all corner of our current cultural mix here in the UK throws much light on to the fact we all share the same human condition and just respond to it in different ways.
It deals with many layered multicultural and intragenerational relationships which allows one to see so many thing from so many points of view without ever taking sides and saying this is right and that is wrong.
For just 1 reader she got she got so many accents right. This increased my enjoyment.
Welcome to a world where the old certainties have gone.
I am an avid listener. I listen between 75-100 hours per month on my iPhone: 60% fiction to 40% non-fiction.
White teeth is about two families: Jones and the Icbals. The setting is England in the 60-90s. the plot follows the early development of the families and how they morph and change. If it sounds boring -- it is. The first half of the novel can be deleted and no one would miss a thing. I suggest you start right half way through if I haven't dissuaded you. The only, and I mean only thing that this novel has is hilarious moments dusted throughout here and there like pigeon droppings. Smith manages to turn a phase with the best of them. I very much liked those parts.
I am sad to say that I didn't feel connected to any of the main characters although a few background characters were entertaining at times. Even the humor couldn't carry this novel over the goal line. If the first part of of the book could be deleted, then the last fifteen minutes covered so much ground I though I was reading a cliff note of a cliff note.
Who is going to like this novel better that I? My guess is young people (in their twenties) who have an off-beat sense of humor and are into quirky and perhaps a bit of satiric humor. If it weren't for the ha-has, I would have given it a one. Although, I admit Goldfinch was brutally worse coming in at zero stars -- so there is that.
I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - Salinger ^(;,;)^
“...the wicked lie, that the past is always tense and the future, perfect.”
― Zadie Smith, White Teeth
I planned on writing my full review of this book a couple days after I read it in October of 2014. I was afraid if I wrote it immediately it would be too sappy, too indulgent, too full of praise. I would probably just go on and on and you all might think I was in love or something. So, like I am want, I put the review off -- meaning to get to it -- and here I am finally writing about the book almost two years after I first read it. I don't know if the delay points more towards my sometimes best laid plans falling and failing, or my anal need to complete the circle and check things off lists.
Seriously, the book was fantastic. I loved it. It was a big, hairy, kinky, ambitious first novel and Zadie Smith pulled it off. I'm not sure why I'm reading so many novels (McTeague) concerned with dentistry and teeth lately. A bit weird. Anyway, enough!
I'm glad I waited, however, because Zadie Smith seems to posses for England that same fresh breath that Lin-Manuel Miranda exhibits with his musical Hamilton. Sometimes, a place is best described by immigrants to that place. Sometimes the change that happens to a city or nation because of immigrants is hard to measure in the first couple years. Just look at London now. London has elected its first Muslim mayor. This has more to do with some of the huge demographic changes than with a super-multiculturalism in London, but it still isn't nothing.
I remember reading a short article in the Guardian a while back that pointed out that in regards to Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh, “the three groups share many areas in common, but the Punjabi Sikhs in Southall and southeast London, the Gujarati Hindus in northwest London, and the Bengali Muslims in Tower Hamlets stand out most of all.” (The Guardian). The thing I loved was just realizing that the London of Dickens and Shakespeare was now a completely different place. It was a place where the colonized were becoming the colonizers. It was a giant piece of Karma. And not in a bad way. The greatest piece of wisdom is we never fully grasp the bad and the good of our decisions and policies. I'm pretty damn sure Queen Victoria and those that followed her and advised her never saw this coming as they began the British Raj.
So, I love how 'White Teeth' just swirls and dances and dervishes with ideas of race, identity, and religious antagonism. The book is a fiction, but the competition between ethnicities, even while the white majority loses their shit is not fiction. Even though 'White Teeth' debuted as the 21st century was dawning, it painted a fictionalized but very real novel about the struggles America, England, and Europe are going through right now. Think of the reaction to Muslim refugees, the hostility that Barack Obama faced over his birth-certificate, the fear that drives the radical right agendas from Hungary to Norway as Western Europe and Western Civilization loses (gradually) their majority lock on political and demographic power. When the mayor of London and the President of the United States of America wouldn't have been allowed to eat in the same high-brow London and New York clubs 60 years ago, it is kinda amazing to see how far we've come. However, it is also humbling when you read blogs and comments and hell, just watch Trump on Fox News to see how far we still need to go.
Anyway, back to 'White Teeth'. The brilliance of this book is Zadie Smith addresses all of this with humor, beauty and narrative magic. She avoids the twin traps of triviality and preachiness. She spins a fascinating yarn that entertains while pushing the reader to grapple with the realities that were faced by Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal in 1945, and the realities we faced when Obama was elected, and the problems we all currently face.
Fundamentally, I believe, things become a lot simpler when we can view people as individuals. Viewing Zadie Smith as an individual it is easy to see her brilliance, her potential, and her ability from her first book to play with the big boys of English fiction. The future is already here and Zadie Smith is just waiting for history and the rest of us to catch up.
"Not Zadie Smith's words...."
This is one of my favourite novels, and this version destroyed it! Although it claims to be unabridged, this is not the case, as in many places it has been Americanized - "Quality Street" was read as "Quality Street candy", words such as windshield, trash were inserted.
These are not the terms used in the novel itself, I was extremely disappointed to find that this 'unabridged' version is very different to what Smith actually wrote. This may seem like a small thing, but use of American English dramatically alters the tone, especially as the novel is meant to reflect contemporary England!
I do not reccomend at all!
"Teeth and Roots"
I did enjoy a less chocolate box presentation of my home country and i instantly found things that i recognized.
The most interesting thing was the fact that both the school and the Chalfen family make huge bounding assumptions about Jones and Iqbal families, assuming that the parenting is poor and unfeeling because of economic status and from ethnic minority groups, but they themselves ignore their own dysfunction.
Embarrassing their children, causing problems between Irie & Millat and their parents, then assuming that the dysfuction can be placed on their ethnic roots. They fail to see this but are geneticists and pride themselves on erudition.
The Narrator, the West Indian accents were butchered, i wish they hadn't been attempted. the South Asian accents were slightly better. All in all it was ok, if a little distracting
Read the book a few years ago and loved it and have really enjoyed listening to it now. Maybe I found it more interesting listening to it since I was familiar with the story line. I do agree that it isn't a very direct story line but it doesn't have to be. I believe that the book lives off the characters and that the voices given to them in this audiobook make them even more vivid.Personally, I found the different accents well-performed and the voice of the reader really good.
"Immigrant drudgery, dreams, dilemma and Drama..."
It ranks one among top ten. To be honest I have read it in print form ten years ago. I picked it up on a whim despite knowing what was in store. But did I ... the narrator gets a perfect ten from me. Jenny Sterlin , the narrator makes this audio book stand out from its print edition. What a performance ... the audio book brings out the London of the 80's and 90's so vividly in front of you. Each character there is personified so bautifully that i think i know them all so close to my heart. Few books have been narrated so well as this one. A must read ... ah .. sorry .. A must listen .
The story talks about immigrants and their struggle to retain their identity with their past roots while at the same time establish one in the present. It gets even more complex with the second and third generation immigrants who are farthest from their genetic and geographic roots, yet are drawn into the struggle.
Jenny Sterlin .. you rock. Among audio books you are by far one of the best I have heard. It must have been a great effort to bring out the nunaces of all the complex characters and their accents. From Clara to Samad, Hortense to Alsana, Archie to the Chalfens each of them is so different .. yet Jenny Sterlin delivers it so effortlessly by bringing out the subtle nuances in pronounciations and accents.
I think and laughed and cried many times over. Immigrant struggle is close to my heart and having lived in london i can relate to each of these characters like they were my next door neighbours.
White teeth as a book in print version was a well deserved best seller. It's audio version is even better. This book is best relished in its audio version than in the print form.
"A very tedious read! Despite perseverance - awful!"
A more articulate narrator
Less non eventful contributions to the storyline
A number of them....................
So looking forward to listening to this book - a real disappointment!
"Awful but I had to finish it"
I would change the fact that I ever bought this book
Not written it
No no no no no no no no no no
This book was awful. Dreadful story, awful characters but must have something as I had to listen until the end. ( I really wish I hadn't).This book was set in England and really annoyingly every now and again American words were used. 'Bangs', 'Block', 'Trunk'.
"Its not you Zadie...its me"
A sophisticated Lady perhaps
She was great but I gave up after 3 hours im afraid
not really...so if i'm coming across as a uncultered peasant.
i kept drifting off....losing interest hope you enjoy it though!
"can't believe I finished it!"
I found this book boring, and directionless. Really wouldn't recommend it to anyone. Can't think of anything positive to say about it at all. Weird characters. Reader sounded miserable.
"Not exactly gripping"
I probably shouldn't have chosen this. I sometimes read contemporary fiction, and I thought I'd see how the audio format suited it.
It just wasn't gripping enough. The characters were well painted, but not particularly attractive, and their lives weren't interesting enough for me to care what happened. The pace of the audio format was too slow for the narrative, so I got impatient. The conclusion, which brought some of the earlier plot strands together, I thought was lame.
The reading itself was in an English voice but seemed to be from an American version - 'diaper' for 'nappy', 'trunk' for 'boot' of the car and so on, although the book's setting is London. There are a several accents - Bangladeshi, Jamaican, London - and occasionally I wasn't sure which I was listening to.
It's a very popular book, so I'm content to think I'm the exception rather than the rule. Just not my cup of tea, I'm afraid. I'd better stick to the likes of P.G.Wodehouse and Daphne du Maurier.
"Good novel but not a great reading"
Bengali, Jamaican, Irish and Scottish accents all terrible to the point of being offensive. Would far rather a straight reading if the narrator is incapable of doing the voices. It also grates the u.k listener to hear quality streets referred to as 'candy' fringes referred to as 'bangs' and squash referred to as 'fruit drink' i dare say American listeners could work it out from the context. Hearing words we'd never use spoils the flow off the work.
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