nwThis is the second Zadie Smith book I’m attempting to read. I’d really thought she’d be an interesting author when I read her interviews in the newspapers. No shortage of interestingness in her work, but it doesn’t appeal to me.

First I tried my luck with On Beauty, but I found the dialogues too slangy, like, as if the characters were actively trying to use slang. This time it’s NW, but look at the opening section, I can’t find this engaging:

“The fat sun stalls by the phone masts. Anti-climb paint turns sulphurous on school gates and lamp posts. In Willesden people go barefoot, the streets turn European, there is a mania for eating outside. She keeps to the shade. Redheaded. On the radio: I am the sole author of the dictionary that defines me. A good line – write it out on the back of a magazine. In a hammock, in the garden of a basement flat. Fenced in, on all sides.

Four gardens along, in the estate, a grim girl on the third floor screams Anglo-Saxon at nobody. Juliet balcony, projecting for miles. It ain’t like that. Nah it ain’t like that. Don’t you start. Fag in hand. Fleshy, lobster-red.

I am the sole

I am the sole author

Pencil leaves no mark on magazine pages. Somewhere she has read that the gloss gives you cancer (3)”.

I have difficulty in understanding which adjective refers to whom here. Years ago I persevered through Ali Smith’s Accidental and for my PhD thesis I had to read Perihan Mağden’s 2 Girls. The Accidental I somewhat enjoyed in the end, despite the lack of emotional engagement, and in 2 Girls, the narration was OK except for non-word words and non-sentence sentences. This is in some ways worse than those and I’m not going to read it. I guess my Zadie Smith books are going to end up in the library.




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