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White Teeth | [Zadie Smith]

White Teeth

Archie's life has disintegrated. Fresh from a dead marriage, middle-aged Archie stretches out a vacuum hose, seals up his car and prepares to die. But unbeknownst to him, his darkest hour is also his luckiest day. With the opening of a butcher's shop, his life is saved and soon he is on his way to beginning a new life with a young Jamaican woman looking for the last man on earth.
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Publisher's Summary

Archie's life has disintegrated. Fresh from a dead marriage, middle-aged Archie stretches out a vacuum hose, seals up his car and prepares to die. But unbeknownst to him, his darkest hour is also his luckiest day. With the opening of a butcher's shop, his life is saved, and soon he is on his way to beginning a new life with a young Jamaican woman looking for the last man on earth.

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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (508 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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Overall
3.9 (286 )
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Story
4.2 (282 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Chris Felixstowe, United Kingdom 11-26-12
    Chris Felixstowe, United Kingdom 11-26-12 Member Since 2010

    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.

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    "It says so much about how we live now."
    Would you listen to White Teeth again? Why?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    What about Jenny Sterlin’s performance did you like?

    For just 1 reader she got she got so many accents right. This increased my enjoyment.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Welcome to a world where the old certainties have gone.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sunny Everson Boston, MA 09-30-12
    Sunny Everson Boston, MA 09-30-12 Member Since 2011

    Diva

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    "COM-PLI-CA-TED!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of White Teeth to be better than the print version?

    Most definitely. It took me a few years to actually finish the print version because I could not stick with it.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Archie was my favorite because he epitomized the "everyman" in all of us.


    What about Jenny Sterlin’s performance did you like?

    I could actually see the characters through her voice.


    If you could take any character from White Teeth out to dinner, who would it be and why?

    I would take Clara, because I would want to find out why she felt that she needed to marry Archie in order to "escape" her life. I'd ask if she thought that Archie was in fact necessary to save her life.


    Any additional comments?

    Zadie Smith's books are very complex, and after listening to this great performance of "White Teeth," I hope to have the chance to listen to her other works.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maha New Cairo, Egypt 01-25-12
    Maha New Cairo, Egypt 01-25-12
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    3
    3
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    "Absolutely Brilliant!!"
    Would you listen to White Teeth again? Why?

    Yes, this is an excellent book: the plot, the language, the humour and intelligence, the sensitivity to different cultures...So many smart and hilarious lines. Sometimes I wished I had something to write down those brilliant lines. And the reader's performance was excellent! She did the accents so well! She just rbough the characters to life just with her intonations and accents. Just brilliant.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    All! All characters are described so well - enough details without boring you and in such a funny and discerning manner too. If I had to choose a character it would have to be Assana.


    Have you listened to any of Jenny Sterlin’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Not really. It's very rich and flows very well so it wasn't a problem to listen to it over several sittings (or dog walks :). It's long so it would be difficult to listen to it in one sitting.


    Any additional comments?

    Brillian writing. Brilliant story. Brilliant reading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rochelle 01-15-12
    Rochelle 01-15-12
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    "An exquisite piece from Zadie Smith"
    Would you listen to White Teeth again? Why?

    White Teeth has real guts as a story. 2 self absorbed families with second generation migrant children, you can't help but adore each of the characters even while infuriated by their faults (which are many). I loved this story. An easy read with such beautiful prose & a fantastic storyline that leaves you quietly smiling.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of White Teeth?

    Archie & Clara's meeting & subsequent marriage is a disaster waiting to happen - and yet, in all of the events of the book it turns out to have some of the sanest consequences.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The reveal at the end (no spoilers) was my favourite scene. Every single character in the book appears in this scene & while there is no full resolution there is an oddly satisfactory conclusion.


    Who was the most memorable character of White Teeth and why?

    Clara & her daughter are adorable character who you just love & who you'd like to rescue from the dysfunctional family situation of both Hortense & Archie. Archie & Samal are delightful while frankly irritating. The relationship between them is unique in that the only people they do not irritate are each other. Apologies for spelling of names - only problem with reading books in audio (outweighed by the benefits of course).


    Any additional comments?

    Read this book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen los angeles, CA, United States 11-29-11
    Karen los angeles, CA, United States 11-29-11 Member Since 2013

    living in los angeles I drive a lot, so audio books save me from a lot of frustration!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "An amazing voice from a new author!"

    This satiric look at British culture bounces all over the place, but although somewhat lacking in structure, the author's voice is so unique that I could listen to it all over again. The narration was one of the best I have ever heard.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Monica Warren, RI, United States 07-28-11
    Monica Warren, RI, United States 07-28-11 Member Since 2006
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    "May have been interesting, bad reader"

    I truly did like "On Beauty" and though that I'd try another Zadie Smith. I listened to the sample before buying, and the reader was pleasant enough. BUT that was the reader doing the third-person narrative. Had no idea of quite how horrible she'd be with the voices. I thought I'd get used to it, but just got more and more annoying. Had to give up.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Meyer 01-30-11
    Meyer 01-30-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great story, bravura reading performance"

    This book is as good as its reputation, if not better. This is a generational saga in the best sense of that concept, full of compelling and affecting characters. If you are not British or live in Britain, the book benefits especially from the audio performance, because of all the different accents of all the characters involved. Riotously funny, but also tragic and sad, "White Teeth" is a portrayal of our times, of any big cosmopolitan city where past tradition and the modern world collide in explosive ways.
    The book kicks off with a suicide attempt and then flashbacks to World War II to return to a present day London where racial, religious and generational tensions simmer; but its greatness does not reside in its topicality, but in its finely etched character portrayals of 2 families, that of the bengali soldier who fought for the British in World War II, his long suffering but astute wife and their twin sons; and that of Archie, the suicidal soldier from World War II who marries a stunning but toothless beauty from Jamaica, and their sensitive daughter, and let's not forget about the Jehova Witness grandma from Jamaica, and dozens of memorable supporting characters.
    Smith takes jabs at the failings and sometimes ridiculous conduct of their characters, but firmly grounded in humanity and compassion (although to tell the truth, most of the men in the book are jerks or idiots), which gives the book a tremendous energy and vitality. Towards the end you fear the plot is heading towards a predictable ending, but fear not, there is a final twist.
    Justly acclaimed as one of the great books of the Decade of the 00s, Jenny Sterlin reading is also a tour de force; her voice takes some getting used to at the beginning, but very quickly one is dazzled by the care and precision put into each character's individual voice. A must hear!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sue 08-05-10
    Sue 08-05-10
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    "Awful"

    Apostate. Awful. I started reading because of the reviews. It contains a lot of unnecessary language. It was a little weird and then it got into religion. Not what I listen for.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carol Ann Holtzman Chapel Hill NC 03-09-09
    Carol Ann Holtzman Chapel Hill NC 03-09-09 Listener Since 2009

    Candy H.

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    "White Teeth gets boring!"

    I thought I'd really like this book. I enjoyed it initially, but then it started to drag and I've now lost interest entirely. I made it through about 4 hrs. and am giving up.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Katharina SAN FRANCISCO, CA, USA 05-31-09
    Katharina SAN FRANCISCO, CA, USA 05-31-09 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Worst book ever"

    I have read so many audiobooks in the last years and even though I didn't always like them, I was always able to finish. Not with this one! I barely got through the first hour. There is no plot, the intonation of the reader is annoying (mimicking a Southern accent) and it just dragged on.

    3 of 8 people found this review helpful
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