White Teeth, a novel by Zadie Smith, unravels the lives of two soldiers who fought in World War II and the friendship that stems from their shared experience. The novel follows the two men back to London, intertwining their wives and children. It explores the racial identity of immigrants in the UK and the treatment of those who fought for the Empire.
Smith’s characters did not only grow up in the same area as me but went to school and hung out in all the places that I did. This meant that reading White Teeth ignited a sense of nostalgia of high school days and places long gone. Reading White Teeth felt like I was reading a story of my own coming of age, as a teenage growing up in Brent, I too felt the emotions of the characters as well as some of the experiences detailed in the novel.
One thing that took me a while to get used to was the style of writing. The Realism caught me off-guard as the last time I had read something similar was Zola’s L’Assommoir. Realism, although brilliantly used by Smith, is by far my least favourite writing style unless used by Balzac. Furthermore, the novel’s inconsistency in personal pronouns sometimes leaves the reader confused when trying to decipher whose perspective the chapter is in.
The biggest criticism I have for the novel is the lacklustre ending. In less than two pages, Zadie attempts to succinctly summarise years of experiences in a few lines leaving the audience with a sense of unfulfillment. The ending felt like a tv series that has been cancelled too soon, before viewers could have their questions answered.
Although I adored the familiarity of the places and experiences described in the novel, the style of writing made it difficult for me to get into the novel as it took almost 50 pages before I could begin to enjoy the novel. This is a novel I would recommend to a friend as I feel like it outlines part of my experiences growing up in Brent. However, due to its slow start and uninspiring ending, I would rate this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.
One of the best things that has happened due to lockdown is that I am able to spend more time with nature. I have been able to discover places in my local area that are filled with lush greeneries and even some body of water. Living in London usually contains the hurry and bustle of my everyday life, due to this, I have not explored the green spaces close by. Covid-19 has given me the opportunity to explore my local area and to fall in love with it.
One of my colleagues, realising where I lived, asked me if I’ve ever been to the reservoir, during our virtual team meeting. I, thinking she was insane as there was no body if water anywhere near me, told her that of course not because no such thing existed anywhere near me. After further instructions from her, I discovered the reservoir 15 minutes walk away from my house.
I also discovered a country park 22 minutes walk away from me (the opposite direction from the reservoir).
I could not believe that all this empty green space was so I close by, especially after discovering the reservoir.
I have loved every moment of walking around both the park and the reservoir. Although I desperately want the lockdown to end, I am very glad that I have somewhere beautiful to escape to in the meantime.
Girl woman other is a book that explores the different experiences of girl, women and others in the UK.
Bernardine Evaristo’s gripping tale of diversity in the experiences of womanhood made this a novel that was very difficult to put down. One could not help but feel passionately about the characters and their experiences, from rooting for the success of Carol, to being enthralled in suspense of the twist and turns of Dominique, to gasping with shock at the revelations from Winsome. This was a novel that made it impossible not to feel some kinship with multiple characters whilst also being able to see the perspectives of those I disagreed with, gaining a better understanding of the complexities of girl-hood, woman-hood and other-hood.
Evaristo superbly connects each character to another revealing a brilliant ending, leaving no sense of unfulfillment or anticlimactic sentiment for the reader.
The form of each chapter is one endless sentence with one full stop found at the end of the chapter. It allows the reader to read at their own pace as there are no stop indicators and instead the readers can pause at their own natural pauses. The form was easy to get used to as after the first two chapters, the reader can forget the lack of punctuation throughout the novel. The grouping of the chapters, although seeming random at first does in fact make perfect sense. Evaristo creates an ingenious novel, that allows the readers to enjoy the journey whilst the book reveals more of itself in each chapter.
The book covers a variety of themes, from gender identity, to imprisonment and abuse, to racism, infidelity, and identity politics. The book not only offers the perspective of the victims but demonstrates how our actions can make others fell like victims in one form or another. The stories that Evaristo creates through weaving together the different themes is both brilliant and thought provoking.
This is not only a book that appeals to your head, through its beautiful language and lexical choices, but one that appeals to your heart through the gripping experiences of the characters described in the novel. This is a book that I will recommend to all, it is a book that I have not stopped thinking about since reading it, and it is a book that I could read a thousand times over and still fall in love with it again and again. Although I do not think that this was a perfect book, I do think that it is a book worthy of 5 stars out of 5.
After 5 days of poem writing, day six found me with little inspiration or enthusiasm. So I did what any reasonable person would have done, which was google poetry prompts. Not quite liking any of them, I decided to open my collector’s edition of Sense and Sensibility and picked words that resulted in my unfinished poem.