Same Streets, Different Lives In Zadie Smith's 'NW' London : NPR
NW By Zadie Smith. Buy this book. The premise of the novelist's than it takes to step into the elevator, and Smith ended her Times Magazine profile from childhood through marriage, we are halfway through the novel and. Smith might see the fascinating and frustrating NW as a correction to the “lyrical Natalie envies what she sees as Leah's happy relationship. a potentially limitless world into a book with a beginning and an end from which. Zadie Smith's latest novel, “NW,” introduces four characters: Leah, Felix, . and when her marriage starts to crack, she ends up wandering the.
I was just educated very traditionally. I guess some mix of that influence plus your own sensibility, whatever that is, makes up your own voice one way or another. How are you thinking about place in this work? To me, the novel is a local thing.
The way people live in London, that particular corner of London, is very particular so I was trying to recreate that feeling.
Did you feel like the characters were not really ever able to escape where they came from?
Q&A: In Zadie Smith’s ‘NW,’ Some Harsh Truths About Friendship
It always seems to me, and this is just my pet theory, that women are kind of at the sharp end of capitalism one way or another. Mainly because they buy everything. In a practical sense, women buy most things. They buy most things for the house. The amount of money a man spends on his hair compared to the amount a woman spends on her hair.
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An obsessive act of comparison. I wanted to write about that. It gets harder the older you get, as you make different life choices, as people say in America. Well, why do you think that happens?
Say a man goes out with a very fabulous, famous woman, splits up with her.NW, Zadie Smith
Afterward, that man is attractive to other women. If a woman goes out with an incredibly attractive man and they break up, that woman is not more attractive to men. That matters to women. Can you talk a little bit more about that, what you were thinking about? It was really just from 10 years of sitting around listening to women. This thing that was about to happen to them was so utterly alien and shocking.
Glad we took the scenic route. This can't still be Willesden. Feels like we're in Neasden already. There's an unpredictably changing distance in the point of view as it addresses Leah.
The equivalent in a film would be jarring alternation between long shot, two shot and extreme close-up. There's even some wobble in matters of detail. At one stage Leah puts a payment on an old credit card from her student days, to prevent Michel from finding out. That's quite a trick, with a card so long expired. The whole of the first section is defined by its resistance to genre, by what it doesn't want to be.
NW by Zadie Smith – review | Books | The Guardian
It's like an oddly shaped inner-city park, bounded not only by chick-lit and thriller but by the modernism it aspires to. The touches of dilute Joycean play are less like new ways of looking at the world than mildly adventurous ways of organising a narrative.
NW even abuts on the territory of the "Hampstead novel" Hampstead being geographically close however socially and spiritually distantthat antique dismissive term for novels in which middle-class people alternately gloat and lament over their privileges.
Leah's oldest friend Natalie invites her and Michel to dinner parties whose conversation is reproduced as a composite stream of banalities "Let me tell you about Islam" and food fetishism "Pass the green beans with shaved almonds".
There's a touch of bad faith here, since successful authors are rarely looking at dinner-party rituals from below the salt. The whole book is oddly queasy about the value of getting on in the world. In the next section the tone warms up. Inverted commas make a return, like birdless wings after some seasonal migration, bringing with them an immediate uplift in terms of readability. The main character here is Felix Cooper, a recovering addict putting his life back together and rejoicing in a recently established relationship.
Encounters with his father and a neighbour sketch in a painful but not hopeless background. The dialogue can't avoid the pervasive non-interrogatives "innit" and "is it", but isn't ruled by them "to chirps", meaning " to chat up", is lovely. Felix sets out from NW6 to W1 to inspect a derelict sports car owned by a posh boy named Tom, going cheap, but also pays a visit on impulse to Annie, an ex-lover of his based in Soho.
It's perverse to represent Tom's point of view, without the necessary knowledge or sympathy, but Annie is the one privileged character in the book who isn't dead on the page, perhaps because she survives by performing her class status, in the hope that poshness will disguise poverty.
Same Streets, Different Lives In 'NW' London
The section about Felix's day is certainly the most successful in the book, though it connects weakly with the rest, as if this were a separate project, imperfectly incorporated. The rest of the book is devoted to Leah's friend Natalie. There's nothing limited about female friendship as a subject, as long as you have confidence in it. But the Leah panel and the Natalie panel simply don't line up — the hinges grind. The time scheme moves past the original dramatic set-up, the entanglement with Shar, as if it had never been important.
This is the section that works hardest to achieve consistency of tone, but the chosen tone is an odd one, of brittle distance. The character is routinely referred to as "Natalie Blake", as if the writer was reminding herself not to get close. Numbered subsections suggest a series of propositions, about marginality, education, privilege, rather than a felt story.
Sometimes subsections need a title to clarify an allusion, so that "