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White Teeth Audiobook

White Teeth

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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

3.9 (1207 )
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Story
4.3 (926 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Joe Kraus Kingston, PA, United States 02-26-17
    Joe Kraus Kingston, PA, United States 02-26-17 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A Philosophical Look at Modern Britain"
    Any additional comments?

    It’s hard to know how to categorize this novel.

    It’s a pre-millenium story, culminating as it does on New Year’s Eve 1999 and concerned as it comes to be with the power of technology to reshape our very biology.

    It’s a philosophical novel, one where clear ideas of East vs. West play out as ideas. We see that almost bluntly in the way a pair of identical twins get split up, one growing up in lower-middle class London and the other in late 1980s Bangladesh. (In fact, the clear layer of such interrogation reminded me often of Saul Bellow – not a bad author to be compared to, but it did sometimes make me feel as if the characters themselves were secondary to the underlying argument. I felt sometimes as if they behaved in order to further the experiment of the characters’ lives rather than as figures growing out of an organic identity.)

    And, most evidently, it’s a post-colonial novel, one that interrogates what it means to be a British citizen at the dawn of the 21st Century when someone is as likely to be of Indian or African descent as to boast a posh pedigree. That’s what put it on the map and established Smith as not merely a world novelist but also a prominent public intellectual.

    Across those lines, it’s clear that this is often masterfully written. Smith is as insightful here (the first of her novels I’ve read) as she is in her public musings. She can turn a phrase brilliantly, and often summed up difficult thoughts with what felt like a pen stroke. One example from late in the book comes when a couple working class characters acknowledge they are not OxBridge graduates. Our narrator observes (and I paraphrase) instead, they had both attended the School of Life. It’s just that they were there at different times. That particular gem, and countless others, came quickly and made it hard to reflect on. As I do, though, I see a wonderful irony. There is a certainty that comes in reflecting on one’s growth and education. There’s also a limit to it, though, and like the best philosophers, Smith has a skepticism about the unexamined life. A line like this isn’t preachy; it’s just a drive-by shot at certain kinds of self-satisfaction.

    It's also clear that this is effectively plotted. As tangled as the story is – it’s three generations across three different families – everything ties together. That’s almost too much a virtue; the final scene brings almost every character we’ve met into a single conflict, and it feels almost more like the summation of an argument than the resolution of separate characters’ concerns. Still, you can’t help but admire the ambition behind it all.

    The bottom line for me is that I did admire this at every turn. Any time I stopped to think about what I was reading, I had to marvel at the construction of the story and the ultimate efficiency of a narrative that sometimes seemed to proceed sideways (introducing us to major characters sometimes as late as halfway through the narrative) but that always wound up going in the direction of its overarching concerns.

    I also often – but not always – enjoyed this novel. Smith writes with such cleverness, and she layers such finely woven backstories, that I often got happily lost in the proceedings. Other times, though, I had the opposite reaction: I’d be aware of how she’d arranged contrasts – at the way the separated twins balanced each other, at the way the early story of Archie and Samahd’s encounter with a Nazi eugenicist spoke to the later story of Marcus’s gene manipulation of a “Future Mouse,” or at the way our immigrant characters valorized a Britishness our British-born characters had lost sight of – and I’d feel a bit manipulated. In other words, the plan of the novel is so remarkable, that sometimes I found myself remarking on it rather than reacting to what I felt was the emotional heart of the piece.

    That secondary, more clinical feel came often enough for me to wish myself finished with the novel more quickly than I was, but it never tempted me to put it down. Instead, I found this worked best for me when I allowed myself leisure to work through it. It functions so well as a novel of concepts that, if I did get distracted by its ideas, I could just let it all breathe. When I’d find my way back into it, Smith’s terrific prose and her vast field for exploring ideas would gradually pull me back in. And then I wasn’t merely processing but also enjoying things again.

    Smith’s been on my list for years, and I certainly want to get to the more recent novels. Something tells me she’s learned from this already impressive debut, that she’s lost the sharp focus of her inquiry in favor of letting more of her characters define their own ambitions. Even if she hasn’t, though, she must still be worth reading. For all that this is engaging on so many levels, it’s also powerful for the sense that it’s a fresh perspective asserting itself in prose. This is, not just by reputation but across page after page, the emergence of a world-class novelist. It’s always impressive and usually a deep pleasure.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Zohra O'Doherty 11-16-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Mind Blown"
    What did you love best about White Teeth?

    Incredibly intricate, multilayered story, with fantastic attention to detail.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The character build up and perfectly timed twists and turns.


    What does Jenny Sterlin bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    I hated her voice at the start, but wow, what an incredible performer!


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    At times it made me very uncomfortable, which is a good thing. It opened my mind, especially in terms of better understanding how it is to feel as a outsider living in a foreign land, even if you've lived there all your life. Multiple moments of laughter, no tears.


    Any additional comments?

    I don't think I would have been able to finish the book, as some parts are a bit tedious, but the audiobook is well worth a read. Thoroughly enjoyed Smith's writing; she is incredibly talented.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michael Cox San Diego, CA USA 10-28-16
    Michael Cox San Diego, CA USA 10-28-16 Member Since 2012

    Audiophile

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    "Aimless"

    This book was well written, with some very funny moments, and it was beautifully performed; I loved Jenny Sterlin's accents, but after enduring 13 rambling chapters I had to quite, it was just too boring, with no apparent plot line. I just couldn't stop thinking about how much time I was wasting, and the next book on my reading list.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 07-11-16 Member Since 2014

    lynne13

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Couldn't finish"

    Absolutely could not keep my interest. I kept listening, hoping it would get better, then I realized life is too short for bad books.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rochelle 01-15-12
    Rochelle 01-15-12 Member Since 2016
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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.

    1 of 1 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.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bradley La Crosse, WI, United States 03-28-09
    Bradley La Crosse, WI, United States 03-28-09 Member Since 2013
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    "White Teeth"

    A good read, a fantastic reader, but all the absurd coincidences and implausible plot turns ruined it for me in the end.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sandra St. Louis, MO, United States 05-07-10
    Sandra St. Louis, MO, United States 05-07-10 Member Since 2007
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    "I just didn't get it!"

    I wanted to like this book. Between the reviews on here and on Amazon, I thought I was going to like it. The narrator had a really annoying accent, but that aside, I could not get into the story. The characters are shallow and not well developed enough to make you care about the story. When the author does spend time developing characters, it seems like a misguided focus on mundane aspects of their lives. I even tried fast forwarding through a large part of the middle of the story, hoping it would get better later, but that did not happen. I could not spend over 23 hours of my life on this book. 9 hours were enough to make me want my credits back!

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 07-23-07 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Wow, what a book!!"

    I do not know how she does it, but Zadie Smith captures you and you are there. You know these people.

    Thank you Ms. Smith

    Suzanne

    13 of 23 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.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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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.

    4 of 7 people found this review helpful
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  • Victoria
    OAKHAM, United Kingdom
    11/20/12
    Overall
    "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!

    23 of 23 people found this review helpful
  • JGO
    Bangalore
    7/25/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Immigrant drudgery, dreams, dilemma and Drama..."
    Where does White Teeth rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    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 .


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


    What about Jenny Sterlin’s performance did you like?

    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.


    Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    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.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Naledi
    Norwich
    11/22/12
    Overall
    "Comfortable listen"

    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.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Christine Morris
    10/24/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A very tedious read! Despite perseverance - awful!"
    What would have made White Teeth better?

    A more articulate narrator


    What could Zadie Smith have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Less non eventful contributions to the storyline


    Would you be willing to try another one of Jenny Sterlin’s performances?

    Not really


    What character would you cut from White Teeth?

    A number of them....................


    Any additional comments?

    So looking forward to listening to this book - a real disappointment!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • PB
    Solihull
    3/16/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Awful but I had to finish it"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I would change the fact that I ever bought this book


    What could Zadie Smith have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Not written it


    Would you be willing to try another one of Jenny Sterlin’s performances?

    yes


    Do you think White Teeth needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No no no no no no no no no no


    Any additional comments?

    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'.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • martin
    MACCLESFIELD, United Kingdom
    2/3/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Its not you Zadie...its me"
    If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

    A sophisticated Lady perhaps


    Would you ever listen to anything by Zadie Smith again?

    Erm....no


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    She was great but I gave up after 3 hours im afraid


    You didn’t love this book--but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    not really...so if i'm coming across as a uncultered peasant.


    Any additional comments?

    i kept drifting off....losing interest hope you enjoy it though!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • Ruth
    12/28/07
    Overall
    "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.

    4 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Ama
    High Wycombe, United Kingdom
    2/27/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Teeth and Roots"
    What did you like best about White Teeth? What did you like least?

    I did enjoy a less chocolate box presentation of my home country and i instantly found things that i recognized.


    What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

    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.


    How could the performance have been better?

    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


    If this book were a film would you go see it?

    Yes


    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Rachel
    8/13/08
    Overall
    "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.

    5 of 8 people found this review helpful
  • Sceptic
    London
    6/13/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Urban family saga full of London life."

    I had been meaning to read this for years but not got around to it. I'm glad I didn't as I can't imagine the reading would have bettered the listening experience.Jenny Sterlin sustains your belief in a broad cast of characters that she brings to life brilliantly recreating the urban mixed-heritage cast of the book. It's long, but it's worth it.

    ps. ignore the pedantic snipings of some reviewers that mention that a few americanisms have creeped into the story, I'm a Londoner and I didn't notice.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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