On New Year's morning, 1975, Archie Jones sits in his car on a London road and waits for the exhaust fumes to fill his Cavalier Musketeer station wagon. Archie--working-class, ordinary, a failed marriage under his belt--is calling it quits, the deciding factor being the flip of a 20-pence coin. When the owner of a nearby halal butcher shop (annoyed that Archie's car is blocking his delivery area) comes out and bangs on the window, he gives Archie another chance at life and sets in motion this richly imagined, uproariously funny novel.
Epic and intimate, hilarious and poignant, White Teeth is the story of two North London families--one headed by Archie, the other by Archie's best friend, a Muslim Bengali named Samad Iqbal. Pals since they served together in World War II, Archie and Samad are a decidedly unlikely pair. Plodding Archie is typical in every way until he marries Clara, a beautiful, toothless Jamaican woman half his age, and the couple have a daughter named Irie (the Jamaican word for "no problem"). Samad--devoutly Muslim, hopelessly "foreign"--weds the feisty and always suspicious Alsana in a prearranged union. They have twin sons named Millat and Magid, one a pot-smoking punk-cum-militant Muslim and the other an insufferable science nerd. The riotous and tortured histories of the Joneses and the Iqbals are fundamentally intertwined, capturing an empire's worth of cultural identity, history, and hope.
Zadie Smith's dazzling first novel plays out its bounding, vibrant course in a Jamaican hair salon in North London, an Indian restaurant in Leicester Square, an Irish poolroom turned immigrant café, a liberal public school, a sleek science institute. A winning debut in every respect, White Teeth marks the arrival of a wondrously talented writer who takes on the big themes--faith, race, gender, history, and culture--and triumphs.
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Praise for White Teeth
"Zadie Smith's fizzing first novel is about how we all got here—from the Caribbean, from the Indian subcontinent, from thirteenth place in a long-ago Olympic bicycle race—and about what "here" turned out to be. It's an astonishingly assured debut, funny and serious, and the voice has real writerly idiosyncrasy. I was delighted by White Teeth and often impressed. It has . . . bite."
"A rich, ambitious, and often hilarious delight."
"This is a strikingly clever and funny book with a passion for ideas, for language, and for the rich tragicomedy of life. . . . [Smith's] characters always ring true; it is her ebullient, simple prose and her generous understanding of human nature that make Zadie Smith's novel outstanding. It is not only great fun to read, but full of hope."
"A writer of mighty potential."
—The Times Literary Supplement
"Poised and relentlessly funny. . . . A major new talent."
"Outstanding... refreshingly upbeat and deserving of all the attention it is getting." —The Evening Standard
"Outstanding... not only great fun to read, but full of hope."
—The Sunday Telegraph
"The biggest literary talent for 2000... One of the most impressive first
novels of recent years." —The Observer Magazine
"Funny, clever... and a rollicking good read." —The Independent
"Brilliantly written and hugely inspiring." —RED
"A vibrant, multicultural extravaganza." —Marie Claire
"The first publishing sensation of the millennium." —The Observer
"Darting between decades, cultures and generations, this chronicle of immigrant London fizzes with life." —Good Housekeeping
"Gleefully inventive... Zadie Smith's debut announces the debut of a significant new talent." —The List
"Bounding, vibrant, richly imagined and thoroughly engaging." —The Telegraph
"If you buy one book this year, WHITE TEETH should be it." —Livewire Magazine
Zadie Smith is twenty-four years old and a graduate of Cambridge University. White Teeth is her first novel, parts of which have appeared in Granta. Smith lives in North London.
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