On Beauty by Zadie Smith, continued

When reading fiction I always try to understand the traits that characterizes the novel  with the belief that they hold a message about the over all story.  In this novel, the characters are always in motion, rarely ever still, the story, scenes, and dialect also advance rather rapidly as well; and the third element is the diversity of characters that occupy the same space.  The same elements I found present in her freshman novel, White Teeth. 

The title of the novel is taken from a poem written by one of the characters, Claire, but I can’t relate it to the overall novel.  My brother asked me what it was about…hard to sum it up, but my reply was betrayal…betrayal and clashes between lovers, ideologies, ways of existing, speech, class, sex, race, etc.  Of course if she did what she did in White Teeth, there will be no reconciliation but a climax of gargantum proportions leaving me with a wtf feeling of bewilderment.  If this is the case, I will be leaning toward the idea that Smith likes to construct social experiments in her novels that tumble in chaos…as if chaos is necessary to move forward social/culturally or either that chaos is inevitable as a natural phenonmena.   The latter idea certainly connects with the constant motion of the characters.



Filed under Fiction

2 responses to “On Beauty by Zadie Smith, continued

  1. Pam

    I agree with your description of “ON BEAUTY”. I don’t see her bringing all the conflict to a neat little end tied with the perfect bow. (Haven’t read “WHITE TEETH” – yet – so cannot compare the two)
    The thing I like is the way such incredibly different characters can move about one another with the grace of an ocean of fish and only rarely does one get gobbled up by another. At least so far…I’m only up to the beginning of the new school year and the friendship beginning between the vastly different wives of the two Rembrant scholars.

  2. My friend Njoke and I just read the book and had an online discussion on it here:
    (Pam, don’t read it until you’ve finished–it has some spoilers)

    We’d love for you to share your comments if you’d care to.


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