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Della bellezza

3.65  ·  Rating Details  ·  44,058 Ratings  ·  3,548 Reviews
Howard Belsey, docente di storia dell'arte e studioso - suo malgrado - di Rembrandt, vive la sradicata esistenza di un britannico portato dal destino accademico a vivere per ragioni professionali in una prevedibile cittadina del New England, Stati Uniti d'America. Il suo matrimonio con Kiki, un tempo affascinante attivista afroamericana, è arrivato senza trasporto alla sog ...more
Hardcover, Scrittori italiani e stranieri, 515 pages
Published 2006 by Mondadori (first published June 4th 2005)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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When I say I am not a people person, I mean I can find five reasons to hate someone, anyone, within ten minutes of meeting them in real life. As consequence of this and the desire to not let overwhelming anger ruin my life, I am always putting myself in the other's place, years of which have both calmed me down and sharpened my analysis to the quick. However much I initially dislike you, I will always, always, always respect you, and if you're not a complete and utter asshole and/or hypocrite wh ...more
May 07, 2014 Kinga rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-women-2014
Before we talk about Zadie Smith, let’s talk about me first. Here issomething you should know – I was a serious book-worm up until I turned 16 (more or less) at which point I lost all interest in anything that wasn’t parties, boys, alcohol, drugs or sex. There, I said it. For the next five years my brain didn’t see much action (I somehow managed to finish high school and got accepted into the University of Warsaw but generally I found education a big distraction to my social life). I was about 2 ...more
MJ Nicholls

This is a book full of unbeautiful people: obnoxious teenagers, philandering academics, stuffy professors, right-on street rappers, wispy rich kids and more obnoxious teenagers. Zadie takes a scalpel to Anglo-American academic relations, probing away at the race/class issues with her usual mordant unflinching cruelty and compassion. She plants a series of depth charges in the lives of her wibbling characters, watching them each explode in turn into quivering heaps of gloopy suet. As ever, the ri
Oct 06, 2007 Audrey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The people who recommended it to me?
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 11, 2015 Paul rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comic-novels
I find myself liking Zadie Smith more and more. The blurb about this wasn’t immediately promising; another novel about a middle-aged academic having an affair resulting in a family and personal crisis. However, there is much more going on. Smith herself has acknowledged that it is an Homage to Howard’s End. The author creates a multitude of voices, all interesting in their own right. It is set in a fictional American university town, Wellington (a thinly disguised Harvard).
The novel revolves ar
Aug 07, 2009 Sally rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: extreme-readers
I think On Beauty is brilliant. I loved the extra layer of meaning that my reading of E.M. Forster's Howards End provided -- but I don't think it's necessary to do background reading to enjoy this novel. The characters are "messy," as Zadie Smith would say -- most of them make a lot of mistakes, but, for the most part, you love them, or sympathize with them for all of their deficiencies. It's a book with many layers, which is just the kind of fiction I love the most!

Zadie Smith has experience in
May 31, 2012 Oriana rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012
I was deeply displeased with this book. I can't believe I actually finished it; I liked neither the characters nor the language nor the style. I only read it because I got it for free (found it on the street in a pile of other middling titles), but though that excuses my starting it, it does not at all excuse my slogging through, stubbornly determined, all the way to the end. The truth is this: I was too lazy to figure out what to read next, which is incredibly idiotic, so I deserved what I got. ...more
Jul 31, 2016 Helle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sassy, smart and street-wise is what this novel is; what Zadie Smith is. With a literary nod to a favourite novel of mine, Howards End - which is anything but sassy and street-wise - this is a novel that only Zadie Smith could pull off. As in White Teeth and NW, it is teeming with snappy conversations, larger-than-life characters, literary references and unlikely plot developments (partly grâce à Forster); in short On Beauty is full of life and soul.

The prose crackles and sparkles, and once aga
Jul 31, 2016 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mary by: Josh
Shelves: fiction, 2016
This is why Kiki had dreaded having girls: she knew she wouldn't be able to protect them from self-disgust. To that end she had tried banning television in the early years, and never had a lipstick or a woman's magazine crossed the threshold of the Belsey home to Kiki's knowledge, but these and other precautionary measures had made no difference. It was in the air, or so it seemed to Kiki, this hatred of women and their bodies - it seeped in with every draught in the house; people brought it hom ...more
B the BookAddict
Dec 27, 2015 B the BookAddict rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: GR

Alive is the word which springs to mind about this novel. It is a glorious, page-turning, rip-snorter of a tale through the lives of a white British college professor, Howard Belsey who's married to a black American, their three near-adult children and Howard's nemesis – Monty Kipps.

My favorite part is Howard's reaction while listening to the glee club singers at the formal college dinner; uproariously funny and totally priceless!

This is a novel where I would love to read a prequel and a sequel
May 04, 2016 Josh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone and all
Shelves: 2015, high-five
Why have I been put off by trying Zadie Smith in the past? Could it be the name of her books? With the names 'On Beauty', 'The Autograph Man', 'White Teeth' or even 'NW', could that have really been the reason why I hadn't read, much less really picked up anything by her? How superficial is that? I have a 'don't judge a book by it's cover' mentality merely because when one judges by the way it looks is ridiculous because I've found some completely ugly covers that have been great books and the o ...more
Aug 09, 2007 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
While I did not absolutely hate this book, I really disliked it from the beginning and kept reading in hopes it would redeem itself. Alas, it did not. In fact, there really isn't many redeeming qualities in the story or the characters whatsoever. The book was written with some style, but as far as the storyline and the characters go, the book should have been called On Destruction...which is, as it seems to me to be, where every character was bent on going in their own oblivion. I did not have a ...more
Alicia Vogl Saenz
Sep 13, 2007 Alicia Vogl Saenz rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I heard so many rave reviews of Zadie Smith. But all were recommendations for her book White Teeth. I wanted to throw this disappointing book against the wall. The characters were stock and predictable. The liberal art history professor. The self-righteous college student. The woman poet. The “uncle tom” Black academic. The strong Black woman. And so on and so on. None of their actions were surprising. So many characters, so many missed opportunities to illustrate race relations. Needless to say ...more
May 07, 2008 Emma rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would probably give this book three and a half stars, which is not an option here. I thought it was well-written and had many interesting, memorable scenes, but the book did not really feel like a cohesive whole. The story follows an interracial family in an academic setting. The father is a white art history professor at a private liberal arts college in a fictional suburb of Boston; his wife is a black southern woman and they have three kids.
The title "On Beauty" comes from a poem, which is
Nov 09, 2014 Jason rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my first Zadie Smith, but she has quite the reputation and she is widely read, so I don't think I need to talk about her writing (excellent), the plot (interesting and original retelling), or the characters (multi-layed, real). I was most interested in what the novel is saying about the academy, about art, and about taste. I look forward to filming a proper video review.
Jim Elkins
Apr 21, 2016 Jim Elkins rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: english
What is brilliant dialogue? For some years sharply written direct narration (reported speech), using quotation marks and minimal contexts, has been associated with publications like McSweeney's and the New Yorker, and writers like Aleksandar Hemon or Richard Price. I don't know if there's been a study of this style, but it is taught in hundreds of MFA programs. Zadie Smith excels at it. It's often significant when a style doesn't have a name, because that indicates it may be taken as a natural v ...more
Nathan "N.R." Gaddis
Character is plot, anyway, says the man behind Darconville's Cat. On Beauty does just fine with its characters. But, "A character for me is any linguistic location of a book toward which a great part of the rest of the text stands as a modifier" says the man behind The Tunnel. I'll grant her the characters, but the language through which those characters are constituted verges upon cliché. Too harsh I know ; the novel reads too easily, slickly. And I know ZS does better. There is nothing here ; ...more
Dannii Elle
Zadie Smith's deep and beautiful insight into the lives of undeep and unbeautiful people is astoundingly brilliant (yes, I am aware that I just made those words up. Let's just call it poetic license).

The book's angle is a pretty simple one: the reader follows the movements of the various members of the Belsey family, and those they come into contact with, over the course of a year or so, and begins to form an insight into how they interact with the world and the people around them. In reality, i
Sep 14, 2009 Madeline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-list
I try to summarize this book for people, and I find that I really can't do it. The story, when you try to outline it, seems much too short to be stretched out across 443 pages. Here is my best attempt at summary:

The story takes place mostly at a fictional East Coast college in the US, although some of the story happens in London. There are two feuding families of academia, but the only pair that even slightly resembles Romeo and Juliet are the two mothers. The book is about race, poetry, art, Ha
I requested this book from our public library because I have obtained a ticket to her Zadie Smith speak at our University in February 2016. I think it will be a lively evening!

Zadie Smith is a shrewd observer of the human condition. And she takes a good hard poke at the idea that knowledge and art can be somehow value-neutral, that we can ignore the purpose of the person who created a piece of art (I think that’s post-modernism?).

One of her main characters, Howard Belsey, is a college professor
Sep 27, 2007 Lavande rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Aaargh. I didn't want to like this book. I tried hard not to like it but there is no escaping that fact that as precocious as she is, Zadie Smith is a damn fine writer. It's a family drama but there aren’t omnipotent judgments or proselytizing about the book’s larger issues of race, love, and elitism.
An interracial couple struggles through the middle years of their marriage and the awkward social integration of their mixed children. Smith’s portrayal of a relationship falling apart is nothing ne
Sep 23, 2008 C. rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to C. by: 1001
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 17, 2007 CJ rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
i loved, loved white teeth. i did not like on beauty. i'm afraid zadie smith wasn't able to capture american-speak very well. kiki has southern roots and, at times, she supposedly "went florida" in her speech and mannerism, but this was something smith simply stated rather than demonstrated. i could excuse levi's not entirey successful attempts at urban dialogue given his suburban/academic family background, but not carl's. maybe i'm extra critical b/c, in a past life, i spent some time in the s ...more
Aug 21, 2010 christa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
About a month ago I stumbled on a sidewalk sale where, between cheese curd vendors, a 5-year-old magician with a stunning vocabulary and hippies juggling sticks, I found some castoffs from the public library: $1 for trade paper; $0.50 for mass market. I was in a rush. There was an Italian sausage calling my name half a block away. ("Meat me. Meat me.") But I like books. And typically I spend 25 times more for them than what the library was asking. So I deferred to my nemesis "thrift," and I dove ...more
May 26, 2008 Alys rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Deliciously brutal take on how class, race and gender are actually dealt with in the society of academia. Excellent stuff if you're into that sort of thing. At any rate, Smith again makes good on her gift for making the reader feel tenderly towards her reliably flawed protagonists.
She is brilliant.
Nov 02, 2007 Addie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
just as my idealized fantasies about academic life were getting a little out of control, the characters in this book come along to make me realize academics can be just as gross as lawyers at times. i also realize i have never read a book about a professor-family before.

in the middle of the book, i told someone that i didn't like any of the characters (except for levi, who is amazing), yet i liked the book - which speaks well for the author. by the end, i liked the characters more. the black ch
Inderjit Sanghera
‘On Beauty’ explores the lives of the Belsey family-the father Howard, a self-absorbed and somewhat unlikeable academic, his long-suffering African-American wife Kiki and their three children; Jerome, Zora and Levi. All of the characters are struggling beneath the weight of expectations which society places on them-in fact, Smith is able to brilliantly explore dynamics of race and gender in modern day America without resorting to clichéd or hackneyed characters. In fact, it is Smith’s ability to ...more
Marika Oksa
May 16, 2016 Marika Oksa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suhdesoppaa
Eräs alkuvuoteni parhaita kirjoja.
Shannon (Giraffe Days)
The impulse to gush inarticulately about this book is very overwhelming, but to do so simply to get it out of my system is to do it an injustice.

The second impulse I have is to try to revisit my University years and invoke the language of all those fuddy-duddy critical theorists (or, to go easier on my own poor brain, my professors) in order to disect a book about academia. This is much easier to resist, as the more difficult path of the two, though I do want to say right now that, like most of
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Zadie Smith (born Sadie Smith October 27, 1975) is an English novelist. To date she has written four novels, and is widely regarded as one of England's most talented young authors; in 2003, she was included on Granta's list of 20 best young authors.

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“The greatest lie ever told about love is that it sets you free.” 350 likes
“Stop worrying about your identity and concern yourself with the people you care about, ideas that matter to you, beliefs you can stand by, tickets you can run on. Intelligent humans make those choices with their brain and hearts and they make them alone. The world does not deliver meaning to you. You have to make it meaningful...and decide what you want and need and must do. It’s a tough, unimaginably lonely and complicated way to be in the world. But that’s the deal: you have to live; you can’t live by slogans, dead ideas, clichés, or national flags. Finding an identity is easy. It’s the easy way out.” 203 likes
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