2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A pretentious and disappointing follow-up to White Teeth,
This review is from: The Autograph Man (Paperback)
After her impressive debut novel White Teeth and the hype surrounding it there was always a danger that Zadie Smith would join the ranks of literary Establishment luvvies and begin penning works more unstructured and impenetrable under the pretence of `pushing back the boundaries of creativity'. This has almost happened with the disjointed and rather pretentious Autograph Man, though it is saved by regular injections of sardonic humour.
Stimulated by a visit to a celebrity wrestling match with his dad, Chinese-Jewish boy Alex Li-Tandem grows up to become an professional autograph dealer with one elusive Hollywood signature as his Holy Grail. Its possession would change his life. Although The Autograph Man is generally regarded as a swipe at the vacuous nature of celebrity obsession the protagonist is really more of an anally-retentive collector of trivia and memorabilia than an obsessive celeb freak. Zadie's novel is original and inventive but with the characters being little more than names on a page, and no convincing sense of place or time, it is all too long and cold and the interest cannot be sustained. And I am not sure what was gained by making all the characters Jewish other than to cloak the work with an aura of faux-Hebraic mysticism. Overall assessment: disappointing, but an extra star for The Joke about the Pope and the Chief Rabbi.