Top positive review
Adroit Handling of Intricate Characters, a complex plot, and the ever present humorous undertone that IS Zadie Smith.
Reviewed in the United States on October 29, 2013
Another success that has followed White Teeth, Zadie put me in the driver's seat to another complex set of people and their circumstances. This one was character-driven, as much of her work is, and yet there is this plot in the background that is very concrete and believable. It's made believable by the interior expose of the characters being also highly believable.
Look, let's make matters simple here... Zadie Smith's work is great stuff, compelling, funny, poignant, interesting, and non-stop movement forward toward the goal of dissecting the human condition and making art out of it.
So why not 5 stars? Well, the one star that is blank is most likely for her tendency to be a bit obtuse at times, not misleading, but a kind of "haze" gets laid over the writing that is almost like she's doing some purposeful misdirection, and the reason I think that she does that is because she does not want her work to be too simplistic, or to be taken that way. It's almost as if she has a fear that she will not be intellectual enough, or clever enough, so sometimes the story takes a direction that is more like a cul-du-sac on the journey, and it throws a bit of smoke on the scene. Then again, it could be this reader's inability to concentrate well enough on what some might consider slightly tough material. She is, after all, not aiming to be jejune.
White Teeth does not appear to have that kind of distraction. The pace was much different in that novel, and it did not let up. White Teeth was more like a train to Autograph Man's hot air balloon. Both are valid means of transportation, but certainly with different perspectives and aesthetics.