11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Loved it! Brilliant stuff by an all-time great novelist!,
This review is from: NW (Kindle Edition)
I took this for my holiday reading and, as I went to school in NW London / Middlesex, I found it a great in-joke. To me, Caldwell was a euphemism for the area between Kilburn - Queen's Park - Kensal Rise and Willesden (Harlesden end). I found it superbly funny; the prose is wonderful and the poems brilliant.
Zadie Smith is a true wordsmith in every sense of the word. Such a talented writer. I loved _On Beauty_, loosely based on _Howard's End_, and so "American", whereas this, is back to the wilds of Willesden & Kilburn.
Amazing! I was completely knocked out by Smith's literary versatility. The writing is non-linear, and reminded me of the film, 'Memento' where the plot is backwards, winding down from end at the start, to the beginning at the end. This was similar, but more circular, and retains some linear chronology, enough to forestall any confusion in the reader. Smith is such an expert at her craft, it is all seamless and she keeps a firm grasp of the plot. Writing styles such as Toni Morrison and the African-American/Caribbean or feminist female writers came to mind. The barrister allusion to the book _Ugly_ was unmissable, wherein the African-Carribbean barrister character gives Natalie a firm talking to, and refers to her as "sister". Great satire!
The Anglo-Irish character, Leah (Kilburn is one-third Irish descent) is well-crafted and shows that Smith has familiarity with her subject matter. Leah finds herself working for the council as the only white face amongst her team of inversely racist colleagues, green-eyed with envy over Leah's handsome black husband, Michel, who is caricatured as "Mi-chelle" and should have married one of them, his own kind.
Natalie, formerly known as Keisha, is the antithesis, desperate to climb the social ladder and escape her sink estate past. Hilarious scenes are derived from qualified barrister Natalie's chance encounter in Harlesden High Road with her sink estate cousin and young children complete with pram, with Natalie declaring, on the return visit to her cousin's council estate, "I can't bear to see you living like this!" which - of course - leads to the inevitable great offence caused to her kin and the ensuing row. Drama Queen! Excellent timing.
Smith's awesome strength is in her ability to bring out all of the layers upon layers of nuances in our covertly racist, class-ridden society, and she does it with the aplomb and acute social eye of the cutting stand-up comedian.
I am still chuckling at Keisha/Natalie's escapades with online sex dating, one week later. _NW_ really pulls off the fine line line between tragedy and comedy.
This was my favourite holiday read this year, out of _Stoner_ John Williams (great stuff!!! - very moving), _The One Hundred Year Old Man_ Johnsson (reminded me of Paaselinna _Year of the Hare_ - classic Scandinavian black satire) and _The Woman Who stayed in Bed for a Year_ by Sue Townsend (sorry, struggled to get past the tenth page, and even if my holiday had been longer, one would have read anything else on kindle in preference, and in fact, read, instead,on my kindle, _Brideshead Revisited_ by Evelyn Waugh, a marvellous book! [Sue Townsend, soz, loved Adrian Mole, will try again later, though!])
I cannot understand how people can simply have not immediately added _NW_ to their list of favourite books of all time! It is highly amusing, and of the highest art form.
The paperback is well designed enough to be a pleasure to hold and candy to the eye from the art work. I dig it. I really dig it!