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NW [Hardcover]

Zadie Smith
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (145 customer reviews)
Price: 18.99 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Hardcover, Large Print 18.80  
Hardcover, 27 Aug 2012 18.99  
Paperback 3.85  
Audio, CD, Audiobook 27.02  
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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.

Frequently Bought Together

NW + Sweet Tooth + A Possible Life
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  • A Possible Life 12.00

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 (145 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 111,525 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
87 of 96 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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inventive take on psychological realism 22 Aug 2013
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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50 of 58 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 'NW' takes us to nowhere 30 Sep 2012
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
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 4 days ago by Giulia
2.0 out of 5 stars rant
I have read first quarter,I can not get on with this book, will try to finish, perhaps it will get better.
Published 23 days ago by George Hofman
1.0 out of 5 stars Rubbish!
This is the first book I have ever given up on! After 120 pages - just didn't get it - boring
Published 24 days ago by Mrs S rishworth
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing read
Zadie Smith back to her absolute best :-) Leila Smith - I recommend it if you haven't read it yet.
Published 24 days ago by Laura
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard to read
I'm not too keen on this book and haven't finished it. I found it difficult to follow and hard to know exactly what is being talked about and where in the story you. Read more
Published 27 days ago by Mrs. V. A. Tyler
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Dreadful
Unreadable! My Book Group decided to read this with high expectations. Given the reviews, I was a little confused when I found myself drifting off after about page 10. Read more
Published 28 days ago by Elizabeth Leach
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I am surprised that this was considered for an award. I did not enjoy it and did not consider it to be as good as her first novel. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jeannine King
3.0 out of 5 stars A view from NW6
I stumbled on this one and have promised to give it another go. I failed to connect with the emotions of the characters but the writing continues to shine. I am a Zadie Smith fan. Read more
Published 1 month ago by debcwise
3.0 out of 5 stars Chaotic
Not sure what this author is trying to do. Found this a somewhat chaotic read - maybe that was the idea. Found it a bit tricky to follow. Read more
Published 1 month ago by firecrest
5.0 out of 5 stars Still reading and don't stop
That's London!! Ruth Rendell gives you the recent past and Zadie Smith gives you the present and all its characters and atmosphere. Read more
Published 1 month ago by keycaps
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