Izetta Autumn's Reviews > The Book of Other People

The Book of Other People by Zadie Smith
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's review
Jan 14, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: shortstory
Read in May, 2008

What a gem! I truly enjoyed this collection of short stories, edited by Zadie Smith. As the title indicates, Other People's Lives, is character focused, designed to act as a window into the lives of each protagonist. The result is a collection of inspired writing - and the bonus is that the sale of the book benefits 826 Valencia, a non-profit organization that works with young people to develop their writing skills. Without a doubt each author brings to life an intriguing character, peeling back layers, rummaging behind language to bring to life people who jump off of the page. These are pros showing how good they are at what they do.

The collection is creative, grounded by simple parameters - each character has a name (but not always a last name). One surprise, is that the book features two graphic stories - an inclusive and engaging change.

Some stand-outs include:

Judith Castle, by David Mitchell. about a middle-aged narcissist, attempting to find love.

Frank, by Daniel Clowes, a tale of marriage and loss.

The Liar, by Aleksandr Hemon, which offers a unique twist on the story of Christ being crucified.

Judge Gladys Parks-Schultz, a mystery that surprised me as a reader. It is clever, engaging, beautifully written, and a great study in structure, story, and development. I enjoyed it so much, that I read it twice.

Perkus Tooth, by Jonathan Lethem, seems to be a postmodern Bartleby the Srivener, all social misfit and fringe. Another story in the collection which I read more than once.


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