Zadie Smith’s tour de force debut novel, White Teeth, follows the lives of best friends Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal, soldiers in WWII who bond over the hunt for a lone Nazi in the French countryside after their fellow soldiers are killed. The book follows Samad and Archie through forty years- Archie’s marriage to the rebellious Clara, a Jamaican immigrant who deserted her mother’s plans for the upcoming apocalypse for the hippies; Samad’s marriage to the young and fiery Alsana, and the birth of their children. Samad, obsessed with the legend of his grandfather Mandele Pande, who may or may not have led the Bengals in a rebellion against the British, struggles to integrate in gritty East London and watches with dismay as his children seem more and more English each day.
The chapters in the book weave in the past and present effortlessly, taking the reader from the French countryside at the end of the World War II to a great earthquake in Jamaica, to the streets of East London in the 90s. The book will make you laugh, make you cry, and grip you until the explosive finale. You will be left pondering the question: can we ever escape our family history?
Availability: COSMOS, USMAI, SMCM
Review Submitted by:Andrea Gesumaria
Rating: Must Read
Challenge: A book I started but never finished.