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

Thursday, April 25, 2024

The Fraud by Zadie Smith - 2023

 The novels of Zadie Smith in the order in which I like them:

• Swing Time

• White Teeth

• On Beauty

• NW

• The Autograph Man

The Fraud is a strong challenger for first place .

I have also read, posted upon and enjoyed several of her short stores.  Additionally I have enjoyed  and learned from articles in both of her essay collections.  I have listened to a number of lectures on YouTube.  For sure I see a Nobel Prize in her future.

The New York Times bestseller • One of the New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year • One of NPR’s Best Books of the Year • Named a Best Book of the Year by Publishers Weekly and BookPage • One of Oprah Daily’s Best Novels of 2023

“[A] brilliant new entry in Smith’s catalog . . . The Fraud is not a change for Smith, but a demonstration of how expansive her talents are.” —Los Angeles Times

From acclaimed and bestselling novelist Zadie Smith, a kaleidoscopic work of historical fiction set against the legal trial that divided Victorian England, about who gets to tell their story—and who gets to be believed

It is 1873. Mrs. Eliza Touchet is the Scottish housekeeper—and cousin by marriage—of a once-famous novelist, now in decline, William Ainsworth, with whom she has lived for thirty years.

Mrs. Touchet is a woman of many interests: literature, justice, abolitionism, class, her cousin, his wives, this life and the next. But she is also sceptical. She suspects her cousin of having no talent; his successful friend, Mr. Charles Dickens, of being a bully and a moralist; and England of being a land of facades, in which nothing is quite what it seems.

Andrew Bogle, meanwhile, grew up enslaved on the Hope Plantation, Jamaica. He knows every lump of sugar comes at a human cost. That the rich deceive the poor. And that people are more easily manipulated than they realize. When Bogle finds himself in London, star witness in a celebrated case of imposture, he knows his future depends on telling the right story.

The “Tichborne Trial”—wherein a lower-class butcher from Australia claimed he was in fact the rightful heir of a sizable estate and title—captivates Mrs. Touchet and all of England. Is Sir Roger Tichborne really who he says he is? Or is he a fraud? Mrs. Touchet is a woman of the world. Mr. Bogle is no fool. But in a world of hypocrisy and self-deception, deciding what is real proves a complicated task. . . .

Based on real historical events, The Fraud is a dazzling novel about truth and fiction, Jamaica and Britain, fraudulence and authenticity and the mystery of “other people.” " from Penquin Press - the Publisher 

The Fraud vividly depicts the poor of London seen through the eyes of the affluent.  The account of the cruelty of  the lives of slaves on sugar producing islands is  very powerful. Smith shows us how enslaved persons, especially women, rely on magic, old beliefs to maintain an identity.  Enslaved women, when young, often are subject to sexual imposition by owners or their surrogates.  .

Zadie Smith is the author of the novels White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, NW and Swing Time; as well as a novella, The Embassy of Cambodia; three collections of essays, Changing My Mind, Feel Free and Intimations; a collection of short stories, Grand Union; and the play, The Wife of Willesden, adapted from Chaucer. She is also the editor of The Book of Other People. Zadie Smith was born in north-west London, where she still lives.

1 comment:

Buried In Print said...

I borrowed this quite recently from the library but didn't get to it before it was due back, so I hope it's not too long before I get another shot at that copy. The only other one I've not read is The Autograph Man (initially I was deterred by the poor reception but I think, even if it wasn't as good as her other books, she's such a good writer that it'd still be a great read.)