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NW [Hardcover]

Zadie Smith
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (154 customer reviews)
Price: 18.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Kindle Edition 3.66  
Hardcover, Large Print 18.39  
Hardcover, 27 Aug 2012 18.99  
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Audio, CD, Audiobook 25.47  
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Book Description

27 Aug 2012

NW is Zadie Smith's masterful novel about London life.

Zadie Smith's brilliant tragi-comic NW follows four Londoners - Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan - after they've left their childhood council estate, grown up and moved on to different lives. From private houses to public parks, at work and at play, their city is brutal, beautiful and complicated. Yet after a chance encounter they each find that the choices they've made, the people they once were and are now, can suddenly, rapidly unravel. A portrait of modern urban life, NW is funny, sad and urgent - as brimming with vitality as the city itself.

Praise for NW:

'Her dialogue sings and soars; terse, packed and sassy. Smith is simply wonderful: Dickens's legitimate daughter' Boyd Tonkin, Independent

'Astonishing, dazzling. Really - without exaggeration - not since Dickens has there been a better observer of London scenes. Zadie Smith is a genius. It's hard to imagine a better novel this year - or this decade' A.N. Wilson

'Intensely funny, richly varied, always unexpected. A joyous, optimistic, angry masterpiece. No better English novel will be published this year' Philip Hensher, Daily Telegraph

'Absolutely brilliant. So electrically authentic' TIME

'Captivating. Funny, sexy, weird, full of acute social comedy, like London. She's up there with the best around' Evening Standard

'Marvellous . . . crackles with reflections on race, music and migration. A lyrical fiction for our times' Spectator

'Undeniably brilliant . . . rush out and buy this book' Observer

Zadie Smith was born in north-west London in 1975. She is the author of the novels White Teeth, The Autograph Man and On Beauty, and of a collection of essays, Changing My Mind. She is also the editor of The Book of Other People.


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NW + Sweet Tooth + A Possible Life
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  • Sweet Tooth 15.19
  • A Possible Life 7.60

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hamish Hamilton (27 Aug 2012)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 0241144140
  • ISBN-13: 978-0241144145
  • Product Dimensions: 0.3 x 18.6 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (154 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 130,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Zadie Smith was born in north-west London in 1975. She is the author of the novels White Teeth, The Autograph Man and On Beauty, and of a collection of essays, Changing My Mind. She is also the editor of The Book of Other People.

Product Description

About the Author

Zadie Smith was born in north-west London in 1975, and still lives in the area. She is the author of the novels White Teeth, The Autograph Man and On Beauty, and of a collection of essays, Changing My Mind. She is also the editor of The Book of Other People.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inventive take on psychological realism 22 Aug 2013
Format:Paperback
The book is divided into sections narrated by different characters. Our first storyteller is Leah, a young white woman from North West London with Irish parents, married to a black French-African immigrant, Michel. The initial encounter Leah has with a young woman begging for help at her door reveals her generous nature, while the fragmentary style of the writing seems designed to show us the style of her thought. We learn that Leah is resisting uncomfortable pressure on her from all sides to get pregnant. We realise that she and Michel have got married hastily, each naive about the other's life plans. While Michel has unexamined patriarchal attitudes embodied in his relationship to Leah, claiming her property, being & body as his own, she has been attracted simply by his beauty and kindness, and for her the relationship is based on lust.

I was struck by the way Leah's encounter with the desperate woman was reconstructed by Michel and her mother, and how this changed her behaviour. This kind of skilfully handled detail built up an impression of her as very passive and naive. I found Leah and her mother Pauline very realistic as white people who have generationally graduated levels of ignorance about race. While Pauline is ridiculous and ignorant in her attitudes, Leah is more subtle, but she is unaware of white privilege; Smith shows this very skilfully though Leah's resentful and self-pitying feelings about her relationship with her co-workers.

Leah narrates encounters with her black friend Natalie and her husband and children. Leah sees her as grown up and her life as meaningful - this is partly conferred by motherhood - only giving birth legitimises a woman's existence, according to the overt & implicit messages Leah constantly receives from husband, mother, friends.
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93 of 102 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Exercise in Style 3 Sep 2012
By s k
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
NW is a brave departure for Zadie Smith and one that could potentially alienate a large proportion of her readership. It is an odd and fragmentary novel, humourless and bland. The melodious prose and multiple plots have given way to a modish Modernism; Dickens's influence has been erased, the 'hysterical realism' utterly subdued. But that is to be expected. Novelists do not have to keep rehashing a working formula, and it says something of Smith's integrity that she has decided to move on. The new style, then, is encapsulated in the narrative's stuttering and spare composition, a complete reversal of the seamless unity of her last three novels.

The novel follows a group of thirtysomethings from the same Caldwell council estate, Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan. Each character carries the burden of urban ennui: Leah is in the midst of an existential crisis, her closest friend Natalie (formerly Keisha) a class-conscious barrister seeking some excitement; Felix, however, is a wide boy recovering alcoholic similar to Nathan, who simply shuffles through the pages as a homeless junky. All the usual themes are accounted for (identity, class, race, drugs, love, work, death, guilt, redemption), but as Smith's interest in each character is asymmetrical, it makes the book unbalanced. It flows best as a procession of snapshots replicating the random movements of a city. But, to follow Smith down this structural and experimental route, the characters must be interesting, and sadly they are not.

The depth just isn't there, each one barely knowable. Instead of total characterisation, there are only pointed and evocative shards, the broken bottle approach leaving the process of reassembly in the reader's hands. Such, though, is the way with Modernism.
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54 of 62 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 'NW' takes us to nowhere 30 Sep 2012
Format:Hardcover
Modernism is fashionable again. First we had Will Self's 'Umbrella' and now we have Zadie Smith's 'NW'. Both novels use modernist techniques such as stream of consciousness and multiple narratives. Both are set in and around north London. But whereas Self's novel is largely set in the north London suburbs of Barnet, Muswell Hill and East Finchley, Smith's 'NW' moves the dial anti-clockwise and is set in north-west London. Or to be more precise, Willesden. But is 'NW' north west London - or is it 'Nowhere'? A play on 16th century statesman and author Thomas More's famous book about Nowhere - 'Utopia'? If it is, then Smith's utopia is more of a dystopia. Willesden is less the land of milk and honey and more the place of skunk and money. As in many London towns, deprivation lives on the next street to wealth.

The novel revolves around a long friendship: 30-something Natalie (once Keisha) Blake is a successful barrister with two young children from her marriage to handsome banker, Frank. Leah Hanwell, a philosophy graduate, works for a non-profit organisation and lives in a council flat with her Franco-African partner Michel - a man intent on making money through share trading over the Internet. Both Natalie and Leah grew up on the same Caldwell council estate in Willesden. An estate which may well have been responsible for Leah's interest in philosophy since each block is named after an icon of the subject: Smith, Hobbes, Bentham, Locke, Russell. The girls' friendship therefore goes way back, but when we first meet them Leah is irritated by Natalie's social and professional ascendancy as well as her well-attended dinner parties. Natalie has climbed the social ladder whilst Leah has remained pretty much on the first rung. And friction ensues.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Zadie Smith - NW
This 2012 book is a creative and inventive view of north west London; Leah is a slightly directionless young woman living in Willesden in a slightly directionless relationship with... Read more
Published 9 days ago by molko
5.0 out of 5 stars I love N-W. Her characters live
I love N-W. Her characters live. They have life. They don't feel like fictional ciphers. But ZS still finds space for proper literary expression, feeling, original ways with... Read more
Published 12 days ago by Mark Crompton
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good Book
Published 25 days ago by eric
3.0 out of 5 stars brilliance spoiled by cleverness
Zadie Smith’s ‘NW’ follows four Londoners – Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan – after they’ve left their childhood council estate and moved on into their lives. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Bobbie
2.0 out of 5 stars Mmmmmm!
I did read this through as I've liked Zadie Smith's other novels. My very personal view is that Zadie Smith is her own worse enemy as a novelist. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Al James
1.0 out of 5 stars Not for me….
Really didn't enjoy this book, I found the prose hard to follow and lacked a gripping story line.

After starting the book thinking I knew which character was the key... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Two's company
2.0 out of 5 stars Not my type of book
Nothing wrong with the product, but I just did not like the style, the bad language and the slang. I had to read it for my book club. Luckily few of us could get on with it.
Published 2 months ago by H S Killick
4.0 out of 5 stars Great
I love character based novels, and this is a good example. Very believeable and likeable people. The story was unpredictable and moving. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Laura Monks
4.0 out of 5 stars NW takes you on a journey
Zadie Smith's writing is so descriptive and thought provoking. I really enjoyed her characters in this book but I thought it ended quite abruptly
Published 3 months ago by Rebecca Halliday
1.0 out of 5 stars i gave up on this
I went thought half of this book and still unsure about the story, not interesting at all
first time in my life I dont finish to read a book
Published 3 months ago by Giulia
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