Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Swing Time by Zadie Smith (2016)

Dance Lessons for Writers from Dancers by Zadie Smith - A Most Interesting Essay

Taiye Selasi's Review of Swing Time (author of Ghana Must Go)

Swing Time is the first novel by Zadie Smith I have read, I have posted on four of her short stories.  Swing Time has received well deserved rave reviews all over the book blog world and in the press.  I was very happy to be given a review copy.  (I am keeping my post brief partially because the review by Taiye Elasi, author of Ghana Must go and whose debut short story, "African Girls Sex Life Begins With Uncle" I posted upon several years ago, I link to above is far better than one I could do and also I am feeling a bit lazy.)

My bottom line is Swing Time is a wonderful work of art, if you worry about the future of the novel, this will end your worries.  It is above all a tremendously fun book.  On a personal note as the father of three girls 18, 21, and 23, growing up in a mega city bigger than London where Swing Time begins, it gave me a bit more insight into their world in which social media, pop stars I have never heard about and the all important peer group play a huge factor.

Swing Time is the story of two girls born in the poor side of London.  They meet at a neighborhood dance and initially bond over their admiration of great dancers from the past.  One girl is studious and focused on bettering herself, she narrates the story.  The other girl is rebellious, hard for her mother to control, her dad is in prison, sexually an early starter.  The narrator becomes a personal assistant for a super pop star from Australia. We follow the girls for many years, flashing back and forth in time.  One travels the world first class, helps build a school in Ghana, the other never gets out of the neighborhood and has kids by multiple men.

Swing Time very intelligently focuses on issues of racial identity, class and gender.  It is a pure delight

Zadie Smith has four earlier novels and I hope to read them all.

Mel u

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