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White Teeth [Paperback]

Zadie Smith
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (255 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

25 Jan 2001

Zadie Smith's White Teeth is a classic international bestseller and an unforgettable portrait of London

One of the most talked about fictional debuts ever, White Teeth is a funny, generous, big-hearted novel, adored by critics and readers alike. Dealing - among many other things - with friendship, love, war, three cultures and three families over three generations, one brown mouse, and the tricky way the past has of coming back and biting you on the ankle, it is a life-affirming, riotous must-read of a book.

'Funny, clever ... and a rollicking good read' Independent

'An astonishingly assured début, funny and serious ... I was delighted' Salman Rushdie

'The almost preposterous talent was clear from the first pages' Julian Barnes, Guardian

'Quirky, sassy and wise ... a big, splashy, populous production reminiscent of books by Dickens and Salman Rushdie ... demonstrates both an instinctive storytelling talent and a fully fashioned voice that's street-smart and learned, sassy and philosophical all at the same time' New York Times

'Smith writes like an old hand, and, sometimes, like a dream' New Yorker

'Outstanding ... A strikingly clever and funny book with a passion for ideas, for language and for the rich tragic-comedy of life' Sunday Telegraph

'Do believe the hype' The Times

'Relentlessly funny ... idiosyncratic, and deeply felt' Guardian

Zadie Smith was born in north-west London in 1975. Her debut novel, White Teeth, won the Whitbread First Novel Award, the Guardian First Book Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction, and the Commonwealth Writers' First Book Prize, and was included in TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005. Her second novel, On Beauty, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Orange Prize for Fiction. She has written two further novels, The Autograph Man and NW, a collection of essays, Changing My Mind, and also edited a short-story anthology, The Book of Other People.

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White Teeth + NW + On Beauty
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  • On Beauty 6.29

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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (25 Jan 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140276335
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140276336
  • Product Dimensions: 3.8 x 12.8 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (255 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,012 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

Amazon Review

Epic in scale and intimate in approach, White Teeth is an ambitious novel. Genetics, eugenics, gender, race, class and history are the book's themes but Zadie Smith is gifted with the wit and inventiveness to make these weighty ideas seem effortlessly light.

The story travels through Jamaica, Turkey, Bangladesh and India but ends up in a scrubby North London borough, home of the book's two unlikely heroes: prevaricating Archie Jones and intemperate Samad Iqbal. They met in the Second World War, as part of a "Buggered Battalion" and have been best friends ever since. Archie marries beautiful, buck-toothed Clara, who's on the run from her Jehovah's Witness mother, and they have a daughter, Irie. Samad marries stroppy Alsana and they have twin sons: "Children with first and last names on a direct collision course. Names that secrete within them mass exodus, cramped boats and planes, cold arrivals, medical checks."

Big questions demand boldly drawn characters. Zadie Smith's aren't heroic, just real: warm, funny, misguided and entirely familiar; reading their conversations is like eavesdropping. A simple scene, Alsana and Clara chatting about their pregnancies in the park: "A woman has to have the private things--a husband needn't be involved in body business, in a lady's ... parts."

Samad's rant about his sons--"They have both lost their way. Strayed so far from what I had intended for them. No doubt they will both marry white women called Sheila and put me in an early grave--acutely displays "the immigrant fears--dissolution, disappearance" but it also gets to the very heart of Samad.

White Teeth is a joy to read. It teems with life and exuberence and has enough cleverness and irreverent seriousness to give it bite. --Eithne Farry --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


She is . . . a George Eliot of multi-culturalism (Daily Telegraph)

The first publishing sensation of the millennium (Observer)

White Teeth reflects a new generation (Guardian)

[Zadie Smith] is one of the prominent voices of her generation

(Sunday Times)

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Early in the morning, late in the century, Cricklewood Broadway. Read the first page
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Amid all the hype- and counter-hype....the precocity of the author, accusations of 'emperor's new clothes'etc I was expecting this book to be kind of irritating. And to my amazement it wasn't irritating at all, in fact it was completely and utterly lovable. Most of the criticisms I have read seem fair - the rather too artificially constructed plot, inaccuracies or linguistic anachronisms, characters who are sometimes difficult to care for about... However, this didn't interfere with my enjoyment of this brilliant book. The observation is so original, the satire so spot-on, and above all the book has a real warmth: Smith actually seems to like her characters and to enjoy being in their company, something which sets her apart from writers like Rushdie or Kureishi who she is often compared to. The result is, of course, that the reader enjoys it too. There is a good joke on nearly every page, which is quite an achievement for a 540 page novel. Highly recommended.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gets a bit tedious in the end 14 Jun 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I think the people giving this one star are very harsh. There are some dreadful books out there and this isn't dreadful by any stretch of the imagination. It's a funny book and, despite its ambitious scope, a pretty readable one at that. I just found it a bit pointless in the end though. The characters, with the exception of Irie, are just too one-dimensional for me and there's barely anything likeable about any of them either. Perhaps you could argue this reflects reality but it just made me stop caring about the book about 150 pages before the end. Therein lies another problem - it's just too long to keep you interested once it becomes obvious that the novel isn't really going anywhere. For a first novel it's a great effort and there is much to recommend about it (the aforementioned ambition and the humour) but it never quite manages to live up to the hype. It took me about 10 years to get around to reading it and I don't really feel like I was missing out on that much.
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33 of 36 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Grudging Respect 24 Jan 2005
This massive first novel is both wildly ambitious and desperately in need of the hand of an assured editor. Smith certainly isn't afraid to stir such minor topics as race, colonialism, class, gender, culture, religion, fate, sexuality, history and science into her melting pot examination of identity, and as such, it's one of those books whose plot cannot be succinctly outlined. In the broadest possible terms, the book revolves around Archie and Samad, an Englishman and Bangladeshi respectively, who are in the same tank unit in World War II. After spending a goodly chunk of time on their wartime experience, the book covers both the next 45 years of their lives (lengthy stops are made in the late '60s, '70s, and '80s), and with the past (flashbacks are made to mid-19th century India and Jamaica). The true protagonists are Archie's daughter Irie, and Samad's twin sons, Millat and Majid. And the central theme of the book is their struggle for identity, which is sometimes unconscious and sometimes very purposeful.
One of the book's main flaws is that in addition to these five major characters, there are the mothers of each, and a veritable wagonload of important supporting characters, including a third family that appears well into the book. There's a lot of coming and going and coming, and on and on as characters assume central importance for ten pages, only to disappear for two-hundred. Smith is trying to weave a very complicated web (many critics call this aspect of the book "Dickensian"), but in doing so, the transitions become awfully jarring, and very often, annoying. A second major issue is that the characters are all types of one sort or another. Smith sets them in motion in order to comment on her grab-bag of issues, but never quite gives them enough individuality or humanity.
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37 of 41 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A weak novel which appears stylish 3 Mar 2001
By A Customer
This really is an extraordinary novel, in that it has achieved such a huge level of hype, critical acclaim and has divided amazon readers into opposing love it / hate it camps.
Actually, I didn't loathe the book; the book didn't manage to evoke an emotion of that strength. I found it all a bit insipid and dull, to be honest. Some people have complained about the rambling length but I think a vast length was fitting for a novel of this ambition and considering her vast cast of characters. Characters were the problem. I didn't particularly like or care about any of them. They were merely representations from different races, without flesh and blood and life. It was easy to observe them but hard to really become involved with them. And, though I'm white, I've grown up in a multi-cultural family, & I found some of the Asians very stereotyped: the Bangledeshi women reminded me of characters off Eastenders. I also found the author's cynicism about religion rather narrow, perhaps one of the greatest weaknesses of the book considering her themes. She found it impossible to present any religion without portraying it as an emotional crutch. I would like more detachment from the author here. I am not a Bible-basher or even a believer, but having grown up with both CHristians and HIndus, I think it is possible to explore both the strengths and weaknesses of different faiths without reducing the narrative into a rather childish 'all god-types are nutters'which is what Zadie does, and dully.
The book's strength is the authorial confidence. People have noted the weak research, inaccuracies and historial loop holes (maybe they don't matter that much anyway) but I think the author is actually good at pretending to write as though she knows what she is talking about.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Another zadie smith hit
I loved reading this and was sad when it finished., it's a great story and would recommend to any one.
Published 1 month ago by carmen
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing.
This was an ok read but I didn't love it unfortunately. The first part of the book is based in wartime and follows two young soldiers. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Elainedav
4.0 out of 5 stars North London epic
The plot here is secondary to the dazzling character descriptions and musings on life that come from a wider range of players than you would find anywhere else. Read more
Published 2 months ago by goldgreen
4.0 out of 5 stars White Teeth by Zadie Smith
A used book - and condition as expected and a good price.. This was a great read; and sure you will enjoy it too. Thank you Amazon.
Published 3 months ago by Dolly
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining but also poignant
As a second-generation immigrant, I found this novel to hit some nails on the head, especially with the sentiments felt by those characters, who were immigrants, towards their... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Allissa
1.0 out of 5 stars really bad
Don't bother! This was chosen for our bookclub and it was such an effort to read... It was really painful. The characters and story is dull.
Published 4 months ago by Laura82
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good
Interesting characters and a very challenging tale. It is truly wonderful where the human imagination and writing ability can lead!
Published 4 months ago by Christine Harris
3.0 out of 5 stars Not what I was expecting
I was pretty disappointed with myself that I didn't like this more than I did. I'd been looking forward to reading it but when I did found it a struggle to get through. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Georgia Rose
1.0 out of 5 stars Afraid I don't understand all the hype
One of those books which the media raised a storm about and which to my mind failed to deliver. I confess to giving up partway through as the characters didn't grab me, the writing... Read more
Published 5 months ago by pritchins
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book
Such a great read. Really makes you think about the relationships between the ethnicities in the past and in modern day Britain. Highly recommended.
Published 6 months ago by Lisa d
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