Book Review: NW by Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith - Header

My mother, Hilary, has always enjoyed reading and recently, joined a book club to expand and vary the range and style of books that she reads. So, having just finished their latest group offering – Zadie Smith’s NW – my mother has very kindly shared her thoughts…

I was very pleased when my book club were given this book as I haven’t read any of this author’s books before and she is purported to be an award winning writer with great potential, however, based on just this one book I will probably not bother to read any more of her works.

Zadie Smith NW - Book Cover

The story line seems to follow the lives of four people, two female and two male who grew up on a council estate in Willsden and how their lives changed over the intervening thirty years. Leah, a kind-hearted girl, sowed her wild oats at University, married but refused to contemplate children no matter how much her husband would have liked some; Keisha, a serious student refusing to deviate from her chosen path, became a barrister, married and moved up in the world but then realised there was more to life than work, husband and children and started sewing her wild oats behind her facade of respectability; Nathan, who was the bad boy of the school, changed very little over the intervening years and continued to be the bad boy of the neighbourhood; Felix, dropped out and became a junky living on the streets but who wanted to turn his life around.

The stories were linked but separate in their telling and this led to one forgetting what was happening with the other three characters and, at times, when a name was mentioned I had forgotten in what context they fitted into the story. The other problem was the author writing a poem to an apple tree or the beach, putting in a mouth shaped paragraph on teeth or just describing a landscape that did not fit with the book at all that completely distracted the reader from the plot thus making one lose ones understanding of what the whole book was about.

I gather that this book is a “brave” departure from her usual style so I might be tempted to try another one but I would most certainly be reading a few pages first just to make sure that her style was, indeed, different. I certainly found this book extremely difficult to read and if I hadn’t needed to talk about it at the next book club meeting I would not have read past the first few chapters.

Posted on by 5WC in Book First Edition

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