“The way Archie saw it, country people should die in the country and city people should die in the city.”
Genre: Domestic Fiction
Published: April 1st, 2000
Rate: 2 ⭐⭐
At the center of this invigorating novel are two unlikely friends, Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal. Hapless veterans of World War II, Archie and Samad and their families become agents of England’s irrevocable transformation. A second marriage to Clara Bowden, a beautiful, albeit tooth-challenged, Jamaican half his age, quite literally gives Archie a second lease on life, and produces Irie, a knowing child whose personality doesn’t quite match her name (Jamaican for “no problem”). Samad’s late-in-life arranged marriage (he had to wait for his bride to be born), produces twin sons whose separate paths confound Iqbal’s every effort to direct them, and a renewed, if selective, submission to his Islamic faith. Set against London’s racial and cultural tapestry, venturing across the former empire and into the past as it barrels toward the future, White Teeth revels in the ecstatic hodgepodge of modern life, flirting with disaster, confounding expectations, and embracing the comedy of daily existence.
Nothing annoys me more like reading a big book and not enjoy it all. That was my experience with White Teeth. I really, really, wanted to love this book but 30 minutes in and I knew it was a bad idea but still read on thinking the book would get better. Reader, it didn’t.
White Teeth has so many story lines, that felt disjointed with so much happening without a clear direction. I had difficulty getting into the writing, the tone felt off and in as much as I tried, I just couldn’t like it.
White Teeth is heavily detailed, following a family saga, through different timelines, some information should have just been cut off. It was unnecessary. Not to mention the many characters who were easily forgettable. I struggled to keep up with the names and who is who. It got worse with the dialogue.
With a dragging plot, unnecessary characters and the off writing, I really didn’t enjoy this book and it made me a bit wary of Zadie Smith. Granted White Teeth is her debut novel, so maybe her other books are better. This was my first by her and I’m still debating whether I want to read any other book she’s written.
Have you read Zadie Smith and/or White Teeth? What did you think about it/her?