WINNER of the Whitbread Award - First Novel, 2000
Fiction/Literary, pub. 2000
Penguin UK, pb, 536 p.
(Book #19 for 2007, Book #3 for the Chunkster Challenge, Book #4 for the TBR Challenge)
One of the most talked about fictional debuts of recent years, White Teeth is a funny, generous, big-hearted novel, adored by critics and readers alike. Dealing – among many other things – with friendship, love, war, three cultures and three families over three generations, one brown mouse, and the tricky way the past has of coming back and biting you on the ankle, it is a life-affirming, riotous must-read of a book.I always seem to enjoy reading about immigrant experiences and cultural differences and that was the case with this book as well. I think this quote from TIME says it well: “Cultures don't clash in Zadie Smith's books. They arm wrestle, get in one another's faces and climb into one another's beds.”
I can see why it was widely praised as a first novel being so epic in scope but I did find it a bit too long, especially through the middle. Perhaps it was just a little too ambitious? But while I didn’t really like the characters themselves, I kept coming back to the book to read more and there were several moments of humour throughout so it ended up being a fairly enjoyable read. All in all, an interesting commentary on race relations in modern-day Britain.
My Rating: 3.5/5
‘Where I come from,’ said Archie, ‘a bloke likes to get to know a girl before he marries her.’
‘Where you come from it is customary to boil vegetables until they fall apart. This does not mean,’ said Samad tersely, ‘that it is a good idea.’