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Martha and Hanwell

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  376 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Zadie Smith's debut novel was published by Penguin in 2000. Garnering both critical acclaim as well as a huge readership, White Teeth exemplified the kind of popular and intelligent books that Penguin founder Allen Lane sought to publish. Martha and Hanwell brings together two of Smith's recent stories - never before published in book form - offering a treat for fans of he ...more
Paperback, 54 pages
Published May 6th 2005 by Penguin Books (first published 2003)
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Average rating 3.57  · 
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 ·  376 ratings  ·  28 reviews

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Jul 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: black-writers
Martha and Hanwell makes me wish that Zadie Smith would write more short stories. For some reason, I am not interested in her longer works of fiction at all but so far, her short stories convinced me of her skill for crafting interesting stories, albeit The Embassy of Cambodia wasn’t nearly as strong as this little collection of short stories.

Martha and Hanwell is part of the Pocket Penguins, a series that celebrated the 70th anniversary of Penguin Books, it features two short stories: “Martha,
Nov 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
I borrowed this from my University library, as Smith was suggested to me as an author I could write about in my PhD. (NB. I haven't much enjoyed her longer works to date, and I swiftly eschewed the inclusion of her in favour of the endlessly fascinating Jeanette Winterson). Her short work, however, provides many facets of interest.

Martha and Hanwell is a tiny, tiny book; in fact, Smith writes that she had to create an introduction to the volume because it was too small to be published otherwise.
Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Being a fan of Zadie Smith's long-form writing, I was intrigued by the idea of someone so verbose writing short stories. As Smith herself admits, her style of writing is hardly compact, and this little volume fits an introduction as well as two short stories into fewer than fifty pages. They say that curiosity killed the cat, but that satisfaction brought it back -- this book definitely rewarded my curiosity. It blew my mind.

With the introduction, Smith compares the state of short story writing
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
It seems painful when you don’t really like something by one of your favorite authors, but I really thought these were just impossible to penetrate. I kept asking myself what was wrong; so many people adored them, but they just felt somewhat like extended remixed versions of canonized mid-century white male authors’ stories, rather than the nuanced plot lines and political undertones I’m used to from this author. I’m so sorry Zadie! I wish I could have come up with more but I felt like I finishe ...more
Jon Stout
Jan 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: homebodies and explorers
Recommended to Jon by: Sarah and Sam
Two short stories by my favorite author of the new millennium, Zadie Smith, reveal characters with more subtle feelings than I have seen her write about before. The uncanny ear for dialogue is there, as well as the sensitivity to the boundaries within multiculturalism.

The first story, Martha, is about a young British-Nigerian woman with aspirations, interacting with a young American woman real estate agent, to find an apartment in the Boston area. Despite their different backgrounds, they seem t
Apr 08, 2014 rated it really liked it
Martha and Hanwell is a Penguin Pocket collection of two short stories by British author, Zadie Smith. Martha, Martha was previously published in Granta 81 in 2003. Pam Roberts is a realtor who is showing potential accommodation to a newcomer to town, Martha Penk, but is finding her one-day-stand difficult to satisfy. Hanwell in Hell was previously published in The New Yorker in 2004. It takes the form of a letter to Hanwell’s daughter by a man who met him by chance one night in Bristol. The sto ...more
Dec 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Tough to find Zadie Smith; two short stories here that are readily available on the internet but it's nice to have them in (very thin) book form. Being a big Smith fan, I tracked this down on ebay for about $40. Great short stories.
Oct 17, 2015 rated it liked it
Two short stories by Zadie Smith from 2003/2004. Not up there with the genius of White Teeth or NW but anything she writes is worth a read, with her finely created characters and talented ear for dialogue.
Mrnotarides notarides
Oct 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
This second story Hanwell is ok, but the first one Martha is fantastic. It is all about how we don't know other people and their struggles. A woman looks for an apartment. The best short stories start with a simple presence and turn it into something more.
Aug 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
Isabelle North
Apr 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Zadie Smith never lets me down. Two beautiful short stories.
Vida Rajkovaca
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
You would not think Zadie is a good short story writer, but she did well here. I'm a big Zadie fan, and this little piece of hers is very good.
John Schork
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fascinating to get a small, rare glimpse into what a Zadie Smith short story looks and feels like. They're both her to the bone. Swiftly paced, keenly observed, and full of the pedestrian kindnesses, heartbreaks, and idiosyncracies that propel our strange and beautiful worlds.
Hollen C S
a short book
Dec 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
In the short author's note, Zadie Smith explains that she is not a natural short story writer, but a novelist. British writers, she says, don't have the financial incentive to spend time on short stories; with publications like Granta and The New Yorker, as well as many prizes and excellent role models, American writers have the space to spend time on perfecting shorter prose forms. Then she presents two texts written for the mentioned publications that demonstrate what she learnt from the Ameri ...more
May 15, 2016 rated it liked it
In the foreword, Smith identifies a certain kind of American short story in which "(...) a tiny domestic incident is given great symbolic weight and an inconclusive Carveresque ending is the reader's only payoff". She seems to have mistaken Carver's use of narrative subtext in his vignettes as a ploy to shortchange the reader, so she vows to spell everything out in her two stories, Marsha, Marsha and Hanwell in Hell.

For a while she treads similar ground to Carver's - each story begins with a det
Apr 08, 2016 rated it liked it
I liked the story-- I had to read it for a degree essay, and it had a lot to offer. It comments well on race issues, cultural encounters, and the narrow perspective of the 'main' character. It's a quick read, and very interesting. The reason I've attributed it three stars instead of five, though, is because it didn't really leave me wanting more. Maybe it's just because it's a short story I had to read, rather than a choice. I have a vendetta against stories I'm forced into.
Nov 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nouvelles
Les deux nouvelles de Zadie Smith, dont ce n'est de toute évidence pas le format de prédilection.
Elle y dresse des portraits incroyablement vivants, dont elle sait exprimer la douleur tout en pudeur. Sans doute pas ses meilleures œuvres, mais elles valent un petit détour.
Aug 03, 2008 rated it liked it
Two short stories and an introduction, which was actually rather interesting. The first story was strong, the second one didn't really speak to me that much.

Martha, Martha - 4 stars
Hanwell in Hell - 2 stars
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
I can't say I like Smith's prose very much and didn't really enjoy reading these two short stories.
Johan Radzi
Apr 09, 2014 rated it liked it
ok lah. tapi bagi aku martha lagi best dari hanwell pasal kekuatan emosinya lagi mengesan. itu aje. kbai.
Spencer Fancutt
Feb 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Hanwell in Hell is an exceptionally good short story.
Apr 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Hanwell in Hell is one of my all time favourite short stories. I've read it countless times and it always consumes me.
Jan 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013, owned
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 01, 2015 rated it it was ok
A black British girl is searching for an apartment and in the reality it is a search for identity.
Charles Chettiar
Jul 25, 2015 rated it liked it
The stories were good and that too from a writer who as per herself has more talent in the long form.
Adam Panagopoulos
Jun 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great Short Story. Engaging character. Nice writing style and amazing to analyze for Symbolism because it chock full of it
rated it liked it
Nov 09, 2015
rated it really liked it
May 20, 2014
Bobbie Winchell
rated it it was ok
Oct 22, 2007
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Zadie Smith is the author of the novels White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, NW, and Swing Time, as well as two collections of essays, Changing My Mind and Feel Free. Zadie was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2002, and was listed as one of Granta's 20 Best Young British Novelists in 2003 and again in 2013. White Teeth won multiple literary awards including the James Ta ...more

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