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, June 4, 2017

On Beauty- A Novel by Zadie Smith (2005, 432 pages

Five hundred years ago London was the home of the greatest writer in the world, 500 years from today it still will be.  I dedicate this post to the people of London

A Very Good Review in The Guardian by James Landun

Zadie Smith on The Reading Life

Last month I read Zadie Smith's latest novel Swing Time.  I loved it and decided i wanted to read all five of her novels (I have also read and posted upon several of her wonderful short stories).  I was delighted when I received notice that the Kindle edition of her third novel, On Beauty, was for sale for $1.95.

The Guardian has a very good review of On Beauty (link above) so I will keep my remarks brief.  Bottom line, I'm now aiming at reading her three remaining novels in 2017.  That said, Swing Time is the superior work as Smith gets better at her art. (I am looking forward to the movie based on it.)

On Beauty is set in Massachusetts.  It centers on the Belsep family.  The husband is a professor of art history, his wife was a hospital administrator. He is white, she an African American.  There have two sons, one is a devout Christian, the other an aspiring rapper.  Smith skillfully lets us see the struggles of the sons to stay in touch with their maternal heritage.  It is also a very acute at times hilarious satire of university politics.  The plot, as pointed out in the Guardian review, is loosely structured based on the plot of Howard's End by E. F. Forster.

The depiction of the relationship between the couple, married for thirty years, is really masterful.  The husband has had an affair which infuriated the wife, perhaps more so as the other woman was white.  The passion in their relationship moved me.

I greatly enjoyed this book.

Please share your experience with Zadie Smith with us.


james b chester said...

This is someone I have not read yet. But I do admire your goal of reading all her novels. I'm doing the same with Jane Austen this year. I used to do a lot more of that but not so much lately. I remember enjoying it.

Suko said...

I haven't read any of this author's work either, and like James, admire your ambition to read all of her work. I'm glad that you enjoyed reading On Beauty. I'll keep this author in mind.

Carole said...

Hi there, this looks like a goodie. Please bring this over to Books You Loved: June so everyone can see it. Cheers from Carole's Chatter

Mel u said...

James B. Chester. I really need to do an Austin read through one day. Thanks very much for your comment

Mel u said...

Suko. Start with her latest, Swing Time, HBO movie coming scripted by Zadie Smith, among others. Thanks as always for your comments

Buried In Print said...

What a great reading project! I recently finished NW and found it quite interesting to compare to her others as well - different again!