Robbins Library's Reviews > NW

NW by Zadie Smith
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's review
Sep 28, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: jenny-recommends
Read on September 01, 2012

As anyone who has read White Teeth or On Beauty knows, Zadie Smith is a fiercely intelligent writer, and her books are packed with vivid characters from all walks of life, tackling difficult questions. NW takes place in northwest London, and the three main characters are Leah Hanwell and Natalie (formerly Keisha) Blake - childhood best friends whose paths have diverged - and Felix Cooper, who has just gotten his life back on track after several years on drugs. Smith employs a different narrative style for each character's section.

Writing for, Laura Miller asks, "If you want to be the sole author of the dictionary that defines you, what do you do with your past? Is it even possible to erase it and start over? What good is an identity that has no roots, no depth, no history?" Each character struggles with the answers to these questions.

This is an adventurous book in both style and substance; it's thought-provoking and worth a read.

At some point we become aware of being "modern," of changing fast. Of coming just after now. John Donne was modern and also surely saw change but we feel we are more modern and that the change is faster. Even the immutable is faster. (Natalie, p. 305)
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