Zadie Smith: Swing Time


The latest addition to my website is Zadie Smith‘s Swing Time, another superb novel from this author. The unnamed narrator is the daughter of a white man and black woman. She grows up wanting to be a dancer (hence the title) and, with her friend, Tracey, attends dance classes. But their paths diverge. Our narrator goes to university, in part thanks to the efforts of her ambitious mother, who will later become a Member of Parliament, and then gets a job as PA to Aimee, a highly successful Australian singer and dancer. Aimee decides to save Africa and invests in a school and other facilities for a poor Gambian village. Our narrator spends a lot of time there but Western and African values, culture and ideas clash and the timely idea of cultural appropriation becomes key to the novel. Though this and related issues, such as racism and sexism, and the various problems Africa faces, are key, it is above all a very well-told story of growing up and living in a world where you may at times not totally fit in and also a story of relationships and their difficulties. It shows that Zadie Smith is now, without a doubt, one of Britain’s foremost novelists.

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