Zadie Smith – White Teeth (#1 of 26)

Date of Purchase – 11nd October 2015
Date of Completion – 4th January 2016

Started reading this book on a Shatabdi on the morning of 1st January and completed this 450 page behemoth over a 3 day long weekend vacation.

Is White Teeth a good book? Yes, probably – it ticks a lot of boxes for me. It has characters with detail, it is the product of a lot of research which means just reading the book you will learn a lot, it really gets into the immigrant experience (something I love reading about) and a dark humour based on stereotypes permeates the length of the book. So yes,a zany, educational and fun read.

Is White Teeth however a book I would recommend to someone? Grab the person next to me and go – please read this? The answer to this is no. And I had the feeling of it being something I had to get over with by page 100.

Am trying to put my finger on what exactly about did not quite work:
– Exhausting, 500 + page story. Don’t get me wrong, I love long novels however a lot of the background and the detail is purely incidental to the story. 3 generations of all the characters from varying PoVs – a detailed job for sure however beyond what most readers can digest. Needed a sharper editor for sure
– Complex plot, which meanders along and along and along : see above.
– Veering from character to character, with differing level of detail. There has to be an anchor or a central character. We start off with 2 central characters and there families, then someone like Joshua turns up and suddenly becomes super important while we completely lose a Clara whom I’m invested in. The Root Canals are especially excruciatingly difficult to relate to beyond a point..
– Am all for stereotypes, but with the exception of Arie – most of the characters ended up as completely unlikable and exaggerated and after a point of time, unreal
– Also repetitively hammering the point in, see : the O’Connors track, Jehovah’s Witness’ track

Maybe more interesting, useful and relate-able for someone with a British background. For the rest – an interesting experience without a ROI on it.

Entertainment Quotient : ★★★
Education Quotient : ★★★
Readability : ★★★


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