Gulp at the outset of this outstanding read. For the first X pages, I thought a major error had been made in being so enthusiastic about dashing to devour this latest book by Zadie Smith. The truncated style of the beginning of this novel is not so much a stream of consciousness as a poetic outflowing that is by and large very hard to follow. At moments, you’re not even sure who is meant to be who.
But oh my gosh, it is SO worth taking a leap of faith and soldiering on – the middle section with Felix is inspired and wondrous and really does set the scene for the dénouement. Without wishing to spoil the ending, though, confess that I did find myself scanning the Good Reads reviews on completion, to double check and be reassured that I did actually understand it correctly…
Very different, and I think even better probably than the formidable “White Teeth”: it’s an ebullient, overwhelming read, with images coming at you from every angle on every page – in the penultimate section, rejoice in the ‘Some answers’ section, where you are left to hazard a guess at the likely questions. And some richly comic moments, such as with Felix and the ‘bloke who’s just basically trying to find a clever way to say that what he is does is work in advertising’ – “ ‘It’s a theatre’, he explained, abandoning all the Ts and adding an F”.
But it’s also, I fear, an ambitious read if you are not very familiar with the Brits and the haunts of London. For example :
“He passed in front of the Valentine kid with his leg in the air and arrow primed”
– it’s Piccadilly Circus and Eros as you might not have heard it described before…
Despite and largely because of all of the above, mind you, this is a book I cannot recommend highly enough. Persevere with it, for it’s just bloody brilliant.
Read in 2013.
Rating : 10/10 – A FAVOURITE READ
Women’s Prize for Fiction Nominee 2013