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The Autograph Man

3.14  ·  Rating Details ·  9,404 Ratings  ·  635 Reviews
When Alex-Li Tandem is 12 years old, his father takes him and his friends Adam and Rubinfine to a wrestling match at the Albert Hall in London. By the end of the evening, the pivotal events of Alex-Li's youth have occurred: he has met Joseph Klein, a boy whose fascination with autographs proves infectious; his friendships with Adam and Rubinfine are cemented; and his fathe ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published September 26th 2002 by Hamish Hamilton Ltd (first published 2002)
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B the BookAddict
Oct 21, 2013 B the BookAddict rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Go on, read it! it's worth it
Recommended to B the BookAddict by: pure chance!

One of those serendipitous moments for me: looking for another of Zadie Smith's books NW,, I chanced upon this one. What a find. It did take me a couple of pages to settle in with this story but I was hooked from then on. A novel about a young man, his friends and a few months in their lives shown deftly in the hilarious, droll, sometimes very serious but always brilliant words of Zadie Smith.

Alex-Li Tandem is half Chinese, is Jewish, has a black girlfriend, a best mate who's a Rabbi and another
...more
MJ Nicholls
ORIGINAL REVIEW:

James Wood in his thesis review covers all the thoughts I had on this one (and more and more) and is the most worthwhile review of this book around. For those who aren’t that interested, let me sum up the basics: lapsed Anglo-Chinese Jew Alex-Li is an autograph hunter fixated on Kitty Alexander, fictional Hollywood starlet of the 1950s. He spends his time writing a book on Jews v. Christians, spurning his faith, squabbling with rabbis, upsetting his bald girlfriend and cavorting
...more
Emily
Dec 31, 2007 Emily rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
What started out as a promising read quickly turned into a...really crappy one. I know this makes me sound somewhat like a whiny seventh grader when I say this, but god, this book was booooorring. I read the entire thing hoping that at some point it'd turn the corner and pick up the pace, but no, it just basically ground itself out into a completely anti-climactic ending. But before that we got pages and pages of...I don't even know what, I disliked this book so much that I immediately purged it ...more
Barry Pierce
How can you possibly follow up White Teeth? Well you can't, but Smith gives us a very different but equally enjoyable novel. The plot of The Autograph Man is, shall we say, a bit more conventional than White Teeth. Smith's wonderful ability to capture speech in her prose is as admirable here as ever and importantly, it's funny! Sadly this novel has been relegated to the sidelines by all of her other novels but true Smith fans will read this and keep it as their dirty little secret.
Siria
I enjoyed Smith's writing style far more than I enjoyed the plot (which promised some things but delivered others) or the characters (who are neatly drawn, but on paper that is very thin indeed); but even the sometimes whimsical, sometimes nervy, sometimes delightful turns of her prose weren't enough to save The Autograph Man from being something of a disappointment. It's more mature in some ways than White Teeth, darker, and I would imagine in many ways a reflection on Smith's part on the fame ...more
Brady Dale
Nov 12, 2010 Brady Dale rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Americans and Brits in their late 20s and early 30s, unmarried people, collectors
One of the single most memorable books I've ever read and totally underappreciated. It's so good. It's about a young man totally at a loss in his life and he has to do a lot of stupid things to realize he actually has it all pretty good. She chooses a very funny little adventure and a very special character to help him get his head sorted.

It's hard for me to say why this book is so great. I think Smith just has a lot of talent but is often constrained by others expectations of her talent. I thin
...more
Snotchocheez
May 04, 2014 Snotchocheez rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

My first acquaintance with Zadie Smith's work, The Autograph Man has left me convinced of her far-reaching talent. While this book has plenty of flaws, Ms. Smith's story-telling exuberance (for me) wins out and makes my beefs with it seem picayune by comparison.

We follow Alex-Li Tandem, Chinese/English/confused Jew/young alkie/stoner/titular "Autograph Man" as he tries (mostly unsuccessfully) to get past the death of his father thirteen years prior. He's pretty much stuck in Schlub-land, gettin
...more
Aggeliki
Feb 02, 2017 Aggeliki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ο συλλέκτης αυτογράφων είναι ένα βιβλίο που τελειώνοντάς το, μου άφησε μια αίσθηση γλυκύτητας. Έχει μια ιδιαίτερα φρέσκια και ενδιαφέρουσα αφηγηματική απόδοση της ιστορίας με πολύ ζωντανούς και καθημερινούς διαλόγους. Με γραφή που υμνεί την φιλοδοξία, την επιμονή, το πέρασμα στην πρακτική ενηλικίωση (παρά την διατήρηση του έφηβου ήρωα μέσα στο ενήλικο σώμα του) μα κυρίως το θεωρώ ένα βιβλίο αφιερωμένο στην φιλία. Απέφυγε έντεχνα τις ύβρεις που συναντώνται στους καθημερινούς διαλόγους, ξεδιπλώνον ...more
Donna
She hopes for nothing except fine weather and a resolution. She wants to end properly, like a good sentence.

Zadie Smith has been on my list of authors to read for several years, but I'd only heard of her more well-known novels, White Teeth and On Beauty. I found The Autograph Man on a bookshelf in the teacher's lounge at my school and immediately picked it up.

The story was difficult to get into at first, as the main character, Alex Li-Tandem, didn't start off being too sympathetic or relatable.
...more
Geordie Peacock
I'd delayed reading this book for many years because of the mediocre reviews but there it was: a lone English novel, in a Spanish book shop, so I decided to take the plunge. Plus I had just finished rereading On Beauty, which is enjoyable and insightful, and works so well as an updated Howard's End.
Unfortunately the reviews were right. This feels like it was difficult to write; you can sense the sections where Smith must have thrown up her hands in despair. It makes several clunky attempts to of
...more
Nate D
Sep 22, 2007 Nate D rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: britain
A thoroughly modern fable that seems to be about the over-identification with symbols, from the marks of Kabbalah to the titular autographs. It's brisker and more playful than White Teeth (which was plenty playful) but also lacks its human scope. It also suffers from a frequent Zadie Smith problem I have; she seems decidedly more capable of sympathy for her characters than I am. Note to self: reading about alcoholics is annoying if you want to care about their decisions at all.
Bennard
Aug 22, 2012 Bennard rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
From The Book Hooligan

“All fandom is a form of tunnel vision: warm and dark and infinite in one direction.” - The Narrator

There is nothing more treacherous than fame. At one point, it is an asset then, at the next, it is a liability. This is because nobody is the master of fame and everyone, even the Brad Pitts and the Angelina Jolies of the world will fade into obscurity. The only people who can profit and prosper from fame are those from the outside of fame, those that make the fame of others
...more
Zoe
Mar 11, 2011 Zoe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the problems with this book, is that it will inevitably be read with 'White Teeth' in mind, and unfortunately, it really doesn't compare. While it demonstrates Smith's tongue-in-cheek humour, it is incredibly slow to start, and the characters are such superficial creations, that it is often difficult to empathise with them. I agree with another reviewer who suggests that Smith seems to have packed too many ideas in here. This results in a novel which is not as satisfyingly complete as her ...more
Steven
Jun 06, 2011 Steven rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of all of Ms. Smith's books, "The Autograph Man," her second novel, garnered the most mixed reaction, which is why I read it last. I can certainly understand the disappointment for those critics and fans who awaited its arrival after her stunning debut, "White Teeth." Its tone, especially in the first half, is somber and claustrophobic, as the reader follows the protagonist, Alex Li-Tandem, through the aftermath of a drug-induced hangover as he prepares for the anniversary of his father's death. ...more
Karen J.
Aug 09, 2010 Karen J. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book has performed a necessary feat--revived my love of literature and STORY post a 3-year, year-round, purely academic stint. An unmatched feeling (exclusive to the luxury of reading for pleasure) constantly arises: I read, I stare at a household object or tree and repeat the gifted string of words, thinking, how in the world did anyone know to write this? How did Smith know to wrap up the humour of philography, the elusiveness of fame, the over-the-top sanctity of religious belief, and th ...more
Ian Mapp
Mar 02, 2012 Ian Mapp rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
The Book Satchel
The Autograph Man
Alex Li Tandem is an obsessed fan of the Hollywood actress Kitty. Alex is an autograph man who wants to meet his idol. But will Kitty recognize her fan? And what happens when there are allegations that his prized possession of Kitty's autograph is a fake?

This is a heavy piece of writing. Alex is a Chinese Jew who divides the world into Jewish and Goyish. He writes heartfelt fan letters to Kitty for thirteen years while being unable to have an effective communication with his gir
...more
Judith Hannan
Mar 22, 2012 Judith Hannan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was trying to decide between four and five stars which is kind of ridiculous because Smith is an extraordinary writer. She takes the scenes and actions of everyday life and describes them with words I would never think of using but when I read them I think there is no other away to describe what she is talking about. She and her prose are whip smart. I thought I would finish the book in two days, but I got bogged down a bit in the characters. The plot and the message being delivered seemed to ...more
Lari
Dec 04, 2015 Lari rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed White Teeth, so expectations were high for this one. But the Autograph Man is nothing like White Teeth. Sure Zadie Smith's impressive writing style is still there, thank god, but though the plot sounded interesting, I think the book still needed a bit more time to really pull it off. I much preferred the second part to the first but not enough to say that I would read it again or recommend it. It's ok, but there's better out there.
Ian
Oct 15, 2014 Ian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book gives the international gesture of 1 finger down your throat.
Appalling, I deserve a medal or an insanity check for finishing this.
Jonatan Billiau
Apr 30, 2017 Jonatan Billiau rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes hilarious, often frustrating, and at rare times giving thought for pause, I felt it was an enjoyable read. The plot, as it often is in these types of books, is subversive to excellent characters and situational descriptions.
Danielle
Jun 17, 2017 Danielle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
liked it a little less than her previous book probably because the main character was such a tool. but i got into it enough.
Amélie
Jan 02, 2015 Amélie rated it really liked it
Shelves: grande-bretagne, 2015
Le lecteur goodreadsien moyen n'est pas particulièrement enthousiaste face à ce livre. C'était le deuxième roman de Zadie Smith, après White Teeth (qu'il faudrait vraiment que je relise), & on voit que le lectorat avait pas l'intention de lui en laisser passer une.

Je suis contente de ne pas l'avoir lu au moment de sa publication. Je suis contente de l'avoir découvert à tête reposée, loin des attentes qui pesaient sur sa pauvre petite reliure. C'est le dernier roman de Zadie Smith qu'il me r
...more
T
Sep 11, 2012 T rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Truthfully, I'm really not sure how to review this book. Smith writes as if she were trying to be your cool pal from high school -- the one with all the latest dirt and the the right attitude. I found it off at first, but I have come around to it a little. But there are still questions, like: Why does she concentrate so exclusively on her male characters? Does the incessant smoking of joints and drinking too much ring false at times because it is something she knows too well or not enough? Plent ...more
olaszka
Apr 21, 2013 olaszka rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
not a flawless work of fiction (whatever that means) but i've got a soft spot for zadie smith.

the thing is, i have taken it upon myself to handle this thing called literature in a logical and thoroughly disciplined manner. this means i do not usually forray into the 21st century, not until i get my head around what shaped it.

but then come those moments when i need a breather from all the high brow genius and all the modern classics or, as i call it, 'books unsuitable for my daily commute'. s
...more
EpidermaS
Dec 30, 2015 EpidermaS rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Z „Łowcą autografów” jest tak, że najpierw dajesz się uwieść książce jej specyficznym klimatem, a dopiero potem zastanawiasz się, o czym tak naprawdę ona jest.

Gdyby ktoś obudził mnie w środku nocy i kazał natychmiast powiedzieć, z czym kojarzy mi się „Łowca…”, w pierwszej chwili rzuciłabym: „Z pojmowaniem świata”. Naprawdę.

Książka składa się przede wszystkim nie z głównej historii, ale z różnych wspomnień i przemyśleń głównego bohatera… To taka kołdra z patchworku – niby łaty układają się w ja
...more
Craig
Jan 17, 2015 Craig rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first Zadie Smith book I've read. I really enjoyed her style.

She uses very modern characters and deliberately chooses unique and sometimes surprising ethnic/social/economic groups to make them fresh and interesting - the main character is Alex-Li Tandem, a half-Chinese Jew who trades in autographs. Her characters all have a comic feel to them but she sketches them in a respectful way and they still seem (just about) believable.

She uses a lot of dialogue. She's not afraid to gently po
...more
Sara
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amit
Dec 31, 2013 Amit rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british, post-modern
And now, for the first time, I can wait for Zadie Smith's next novel, having read all her published novels. The lady leaves me speechless. What an enviable collection of work to have at the age of 39! Even not counting her brilliant non-fiction book, Changing My Mind.

Still, Autograph Man is, purely on the merit of plot, is the weakest of her works. What lacks there though is amply compensated by the wit and charm, and a sleepwalking kind of narrative where Alex-Li Tandem, as the title suggest,
...more
Nicole
Jul 10, 2013 Nicole rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A loyal Zadie Smith fan and avid reader of her books made me skeptical about some of the harsher reactions to this one, yet sadly I have to admit I am equally disappointed and perhaps even offended at the quality of this work when we know she can do so much better. She doesn't seem to have put much thought in to this, and was instead rolling off the attention high from the praise for White Teeth. Smith's work is often unrefined which is something I love so much because you can really hear her vo ...more
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2522
Zadie Smith is the author of the novels White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, and NW, as well as a collection of essays, Changing My Mind. Swing Time is her fifth novel.

Visit www.zadiesmith.com for more information.
More about Zadie Smith...

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“She hopes for nothing except fine weather and a resolution. She wants to end properly, like a good sentence. ” 91 likes
“She loved you in the morning because the day was new.” 41 likes
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