An Analysis of White Teeth by Zadie Smith

2700 Words11 Pages
Zadie Smith's multicultural, post colonial novel has been widely discussed in the literary

world. At the age of 25, Zadie Smith captures the immensely believable

lives of an aging Bangladeshi Muslim man, a too-concerned middle-class white woman poking

her nose in all the wrong business, and an adolescent half-Jamaican girl with self-esteem issues. Over the span of about 30 years, the three families in the book undergo

a wide web of separate but somehow connected circumstances, and Smith became an award-

winning author because of her writing.

It is not to say that Smith has not gone through criticism. Here's what one review had to

say about the (at the time) budding author:

"This kind of precocity in so young a writer has one half of the audience standing to

applaud and the other half wishing, as with child performers of the past (Shirley Temple,

Bonnie Langford et al), she would just stay still and shut up. White Teeth is the literary

equivalent of a hyperactive, ginger-haired tap-dancing 10-year-old." (Moss)

The review is pointed and scathing, nevertheless, it is necessary to keep two things in mind when

considering if the review's argument is valid. One, White Teeth was the recipient of at least ten

awards, not to mention was placed on Time Magazine's list of “100 All Time Novels”, a list of

the English language's best novels spanning back to 1923. And two, that word in the publishing

industry says that Smith had written that review herself (Moss).

In that case, we can disregard her self-depreciation; as it goes, no one is a worst critic of

their work than one's own self. But there is merit to some of the quote's sentiments. Precocity and

hyperactivity are very accurate adjectives for ...

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Smith, Zadie. White Teeth. New York: Random House, Inc., 2000. Print.

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