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The Embassy of Cambodia
 
 

The Embassy of Cambodia [Kindle Edition]

Zadie Smith
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

Back on the terrain of NW, The Embassy of Cambodia is another remarkable work of fiction from Zadie Smith.



'The fact is, if we followed the history of every little country in the world -- in its dramatic as well as its quiet times -- we would have no space left in which to live our own lives or apply ourselves to our necessary tasks, never mind indulge in occasional pleasures, like swimming . . . '



First published this Spring in the New Yorker, The Embassy of Cambodia is a rare and brilliant story that takes us deep into the life of a young woman, Fatou, domestic servant to the Derawals and escapee from one set of hardships to another.



Beginning and ending outside the Embassy of Cambodia, which happens to be located in Willesden, NW London, Zadie Smith's absorbing, moving and wryly observed story suggests how the apparently small things in an ordinary life always raise larger, more extraordinary questions.



Praise for NW:



'A triumph . . .modern London is explored in a dazzling portrait . . . every sentence sings' Guardian



'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, it reads like surveillance transcripts' Lev Grossman, TIME



Zadie Smith was born in north-west London in 1975. She is the author of the novels NW, 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.

About the Author

Zadie Smith was born in north-west London in 1975. She is the author of the novels NW, 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 details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 322 KB
  • Print Length: 73 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0241146526
  • Publisher: Penguin (7 Nov 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00EK28WU4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #44,793 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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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.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much to discover in just a few pages 9 Nov 2013
By Amanda Jenkinson TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
This excellent short story by Zadie Smith first appeared in the New Yorker in February 2013. It tells the story of a young woman, Fatou, who has fled the Ivory Coast to make a better life for herself in the west. She works as a maid for a wealthy Pakistani family, the Derawals, in Willesden, North West London - familiar Smith territory - near the Embassy of Cambodia. Every Monday, Fatou manages to slip out of the house for a few precious hours of freedom, when she uses the family's guest passes to swim at a local club. As she walks past the Embassy there is the constant noise of a badminton game going on behind the wall, and the story is structured as a badminton game itself, with numbered sections showing the score from 0-1 to 0-21, cleverly reflecting the lack of power of one of the players, or perhaps Fatou herself who never manages to score in response to her situation.
This is a powerful and multi-layered story. It explores issues of power and inequality, human suffering and genocide, loneliness and isolation. There are no real villains in Fatou's small world, her family are not overly cruel to her, but the looming presence of the Cambodian Embassy obviously calls to mind the abuse of power, and through her own small-scale suffering she can relate to greater human tragedies.
For such a short work, Smith has packed in a great deal and it is a story that rewards close attention to the text and much re-reading. Well observed, compassionate and perceptive, a real gem.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short but well formed, wish it were full-length 22 Nov 2013
By K. J. Noyes TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
Would have loved to read more of this.

This short story isn't really at all about the embassy, anyone who goes in there, anything that happens there.

It's about a woman who passes the embassy each week on the way to a swimming pool, using her employer's guest pass. Fatou is an unpaid overworked cleaner/childcarer who is just trying to survive. The 69 short pages barely scratch the surface on her life, there is scope for much more.

Hard to review such a short tale but did enjoy reading it and the quality of Smith's writing.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A Pained Dullness 18 Nov 2013
Format:Hardcover
The length didn't bother me, although I feel that The Embassy of Cambodia would work better as a longer short story.

This is the tale of Fatou, a foreign maid who works for the ungrateful and colourless Derawal family. It tells of her secret adventures with club poolside swims and misadventures as to what constitutes for a painful destiny..

Initially, I approached my new Zadie Smith with interest and an open mind.

I was startled when the first few pages brought on a yawn. The stifled badminton games in the compound of the embassy at the first instance, seemed to me, to be moulded as some kind of valuable metaphor either to signify stupor in the maid Fatou's mind or a wistfulness. Or perhaps even, the symbol of a ruthless exploitation aimed at a weaker target. I just couldn't put my finger on it.

The trouble was, that the opening chapters failed to lure me onward into any further curiosity. The hope for intrigue vanished. My interest turned stagnant. Perhaps, it was that sudden dullness at being confronted repeatedly with the now tedious word, embassy and the sluggish rhythm of the badminton game in motion.

I found the story stale in flavour. In the past, I'd devoured one too many similar skeletal structures mapped inside those of contemporary London novels where the rich turn their noses up at the poor, religion is shaped as a yardstick for hypocrisy, personal spirituality locks horns with an intense intellectual dialogue now and then and also, the usual variety of colourful cultures thrown in for added effect. This, to heighten supposed confusion, tension & conflict. Such would prove the basic tools of the novelist's trade. Only the plots and event-descriptions vary.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars not worth it 18 Mar 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Too short to be a separate book. No value for the money spent.
Otherwise the story is interesting enough, written in typical Zadie Smith style.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Too short to get into 27 Feb 2014
By Rob
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I loved the other books by Zadie Smith but found this far too short to get into. Next time I buy a Kindle book I will ensure I look at how many pages there are.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Short Story 11 Dec 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A good synopsis for an excellent novel. This is a 69 page novel costing £7.99 on the cover, as such it is a commercial rip-off to deceive the Christmas market. Really disappointing as it had the potential to be a great modern novel,
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3.0 out of 5 stars Confusing 13 May 2014
By Emma C
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I'm glad I read this because I was really intrigued by the idea of it when I first saw it in Foyles and it kept bugging me until I came on here and bought it. But the truth is it didn't really make a lot of sense when I read it and I'm not sure I understood the plot (or that it even had a plot). So it was good... but disappointing.
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By Christina VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
This is a dinky child-sized book in a pleasantly square design, evoking the days of youth when we held real books in our hands and appreciated the feel of an embossed and textured cover.

Zadie Smith is one of Britain's foremost modern writers and I always look forward to reading her novels with great anticipation and sense of secret excitement, like the tv advert of Nicole Scherzinger being caught by the camera biting into her chocolate bar and licking her fingers.

The verdict? We the people of Willesden did find this short story intriguing and we found ourselves turning the pages for more, reading right to the end and being disappointed not to find out more of Fatou's life. Fatou is one of the dispossessed, working as little more than a skivvy to a an Asian family that run a string of shops and are wealthy enough to hire a nanny.

Their casual cruelty towards Fatou is no surprise. The surprise in the white male/middle-class female dominated book world is that here we have the main character as a person normally completely invisible to mainstream society in Britain, the lowly, immigrant, "non-white" female with a job cleaning up dirt after others. She has thoughts, she is an intellectual, a philosopher, even. She is an observer.

In my mind's eye, I visualised the book as being set in Willesden Lane, a road remembered from my youth from growing up in the area (We the People of Willesden! <g>). where we had stars such as Clodagh Rodgers, Mick Jagger & Keith Richard staying, various temples, catholic convents and a register office, and weaved its way for a couple of kilometres between Willesden Green and Kilburn High Road, Brondesbury Park - famous Twiggy land - not far off.

Zadie Smith is always a pleasure to read. This is a little expensive, given how short it is. I picked up my copy in a sale at Waterstones.

I have written a review of NW
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Disappointing, did not expect it to be so short. Usually a fan...
Published 14 days ago by laurence
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A very interesting beautifully written story. It leaves you with many questions.
Published 16 days ago by ruskin
4.0 out of 5 stars Although it was quite a short story (it is a ...
Although it was quite a short story (it is a novella) it was quite thought provoking about our perceptions of our fair society.
Published 26 days ago by Mrs L A Managhan
1.0 out of 5 stars disappointed
I have really enjoyed all the books of Zadie Smiths that I have read but this was disappointingly short and seemed unfinished. Read more
Published 1 month ago by PETER JENSEN
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
So short! Incomplete?
Published 2 months ago by maria sforza
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
But its only 74 pages long - an excellent albeit very expensive read!
Published 3 months ago by Christine Howorth
4.0 out of 5 stars interesting story
Well written. Insightful. Views life from a different angle. Would have liked it to develop more and to have been longer.
Published 5 months ago by summerhouse5
3.0 out of 5 stars Short-changed?
This story deserves a higher rating but selling it as a book which took me less than an hour to read was a rip-off. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Rosemary
3.0 out of 5 stars Pleasant, alert, if slim
An unusual departure into "shorts" from Smith, who shows that she can make an impact in far fewer pages than the usual rambling sagas. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Felis
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