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Publisher's Summary

An ambitious, exuberant new novel moving from Northwest London to West Africa, from the multiaward-winning author of White Teeth and On Beauty.

Two brown girls dream of being dancers - but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe or makes a person truly free. It's a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early 20s, never to be revisited but never quite forgotten either....

Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them. Moving from Northwest London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time.

©2016 Zadie Smith (P)2016 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"[Narrator Pippa] Bennett-Warner's delivery reflects...all the characters indelible personalities. She provides just the right nuances for the girls, their mothers, and the self-involved rock star the narrator works for. Don't miss this wonderfully written, convincing story, expertly delivered by Bennett-Warner." (AudioFile)  

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • BNBNYC
  • New York, New York United States
  • 02-19-17

Wonderful characters, no resolution -a very satisfying read

An engaging journey through two women's growing up years, from public housing to a third-tier university, one-name celebrities and the complexities of fighting African poverty. Many fascinating female characters, vivid writing and time-shifting made this an engrossing novel.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

A Little More of Zadie Smith's Brilliance

It's always treat, when reading a Zadie Smith novel, to read in anticipation of those times in the story when she offers up to us just the right choice of brilliant words. Lots of them here in Swing Time.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • janet3207
  • Annapolis, MD United States
  • 01-10-17

Brilliant performance, challenging story in audio

I found the storyline a bit challenging to follow when she shifted from childhood to young woman and back. But other than that I really enjoyed her descriptive language and felt as if I were there in the Villages and flats and places where she traveled. At what point did her mother begin living with a woman? After the Activist surely, but I did not recall an entry point for Miriam. It is a well-written book and I'm actually going to go purchase it so that I can read it and catch the places that I missed.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Overly long, ultimately disappointing

Way too long, a rather rambling, somewhat pointless narrative. Be prepared to spend long listening hours with self-absorbed, clueless characters. Not a single one was anyone I'd want to meet. The narrator was fabulous, though.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

beautiful

loved it. haunting tale of race, class, fierce childhood friendships, betrayal and awakening. What if you became the personal assistant of your childhood pop star idol and learned to see through the lining glass at everyone but yourself? This novel imagines that and the crashing back to reality when the fantasy ends as reality leaks back in through the cracks.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • MPet
  • New York, NY
  • 11-26-16

Absolute genius

This is a work of prodigious talent. I'm so honored to have read it. Enjoyed it beyond what I can convey. The performance is the best I've geard, with an incredible range of voices & accents. Perfection.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

A sandwich, where the bread is the best part

A somewhat evocative story, Swing Time offers a fascinating beginning and ending that almost made it worth the lengthy investment in listening to the full book. The early narrative is promising and then it's set aside for a tale involving a host of unsympathetic characters and a meandering storyline. There was so much potential in continuing to develop the tension between the two initial characters, but this relationship was unfortunately abandoned until the final chapters.
I listen to 3-4 audio books per month and finding an interesting read is such a prize. Although at times well written and intriguing, Swing Time was not a great book. I can't recommend it.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
  • Gloria
  • Carmichael, CA, USA
  • 05-17-17

What Happened to the Writer I Loved?

This story is fairly interesting, but the writing is gray and monotone. There is a single sad drone to the whole thing. I miss the humor, brightness and the potpourri of emotion and color from her earlier books.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good writing but unsatisfying

The author is a wonderful writer but the story itself was unsatisfying, particularly the ending.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Good listen and or read just not quite as good as White Teeth

Zadie Smith is one of the great writers of our time. Her insight into characters, and the reexamination of events from different perspectives, provided not just by race or country of origin, but also by time itself makes for a compelling read or listen.
With that said I never lost myself into it like I did with White Teeth. Perhaps it's nearly impossible to match White Teeth's achievements. Perhaps it's that I'm listening to this after Trump, the anti -immigrant, anti -refugee took office and I was hoping for the feel good inclusiveness of White Teeth. Really it's hard to judge anything because it feels like we have been thrown back into Germany in the 30's. White Teeth gave me hope for humanity. This book just left me sad, albeit with greater insight.
But, like I said, every dad feels dark and ominous since Trump got elected.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful