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Friday, March 17, 2017

Swing Time by Zadie Smith - Feature and Review


ABOUT THE BOOK:

Two brown girls dream of being dancers--but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, about what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It's a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either.

Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them. Moving from northwest London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time.


LISTEN TO AN EXCERPT:





MY REVIEW:


Swing TimeSwing Time by Zadie Smith
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Swing Time by Zadie Smith is a 2016 Hamish Hamilton publication.

I picked this book out while reading through some of 2016’s award nominees, eager to read outside my comfort zone for a while.

The story begins with the childhood friendship between two ‘brown girls’ who forge a strong bond, despite their difference in upbringing and approach to life.

Tracey is a talented dancer, while her unnamed friend dances to the beat of a different drummer, so to speak.

As we follow the paths these two embark on in life, the friendship that once cemented them together, begins to crack. Still, no matter what transpires for each of them, that bond seems indestructible and impossible to ignore completely.

This book is truly multi-layered. Tracey has a goal, a purpose, despite her troubled home life. But, her undisciplined childhood promotes unflattering behaviors in her.

Our narrator, may not possess the natural talent of her friend, but her life is grounded by a father who loves her and a strong mother who works hard to achieve her own goals, set an example for her daughter, and hopefully provide her with a better life in the process.

The story is filled with lush locations, introduces us to different cultures, and even has musical soundtrack. The writing, of course, is exceptional, and characterizations vivid and alive.

The women featured are so exotic, each with a distinct and profound sense of themselves, except perhaps for our narrator who is still on that path of self -discovery.

The pop star the narrator works for might conjure up an image or two of real life divas, the mother is a character who leaves a strong and forceful impression on her daughter, and there is no question that Tracey’s friendship has had an impact. Hawa is a unique character, as well. A woman who embraces her life despite the cultural judgements our sensibilities might balk at. All these women make an impression on the narrator in some way and will help her chose her path.

I hope I’ve taken from the book what the author was attempting to express, but for some reason, I find it difficult to articulate what that might be.

I think our storyteller was so focused on leaving her old neighborhood behind, once she manages to do that, she seems to struggle with her selfhood. She attempts to wear several hats, but they don’t always seem to fit.

“I saw all my years at once, but they were not piled up on each other, experience after experience, building into something of substance—the opposite. A truth was being revealed to me: that I had always tried to attach myself to the light of other people, that I had never had any light of my own. I experienced myself as a kind of shadow.”

Ultimately, I think our narrator will find her calling, her niche, will embrace her heritage, her roots, and make peace with who she is deep down and maybe even find a common ground with her old childhood friend, in the old neighborhood where they first danced.

Overall, this is a well written story, which I think is open to various interpretations. It’s a serious character analysis, it’s about personal convictions, friendship, race, and individuality. This is my first novel by this author, and I’m impressed enough, I want to have a look at her previous releases and will look forward enjoying her future efforts.

GET YOUR COPY HERE:

https://www.amazon.com/Swing-Time-Zadie-Smith-ebook/dp/B01D9H1Q2Q/

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/swing-time-zadie-smith/1123566594

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Zadie Smith is the author of the novels White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, and NW, as well as a collection of essays, Changing My Mind. Swing Time is her fifth novel.

Visit www.zadiesmith.com for more information.

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