Swing Time by Zadie SmithSwing Time by Zadie Smith

Swing Time

byZadie Smith

Paperback | September 5, 2017

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New York Times bestseller 
Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction
Finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize for Fiction

An ambitious, exuberant new novel moving from northwest London to West Africa, from the multi-award-winning author of White Teeth and On Beauty

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.
ZADIE SMITH is the author of the novels White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, and NW, as well as The Embassy of Cambodia and a collection of essays, Changing My Mind. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has twice been listed as one of Granta's 20 Best Young British Novelists. She has won the Orange Prize for Fi...
Title:Swing TimeFormat:PaperbackDimensions:464 pages, 8.4 × 5.45 × 1 inPublished:September 5, 2017Publisher:Penguin CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143170279

ISBN - 13:9780143170273

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from I couldn't put it down, but ultimately I'm confused At one point in Swing Time, the narrator says something to the effect of "What could a man like him offer a woman like me?" It stuck with me because I still have no idea what kind of a woman she is or even how she sees herself. The writing is gorgeous and sharp, as always with Zadie Smith. The story, with its continent hopping cast of characters and dramatic storylines, was one I gobbled up. Yet I feel a bit lost now that I've finished the book. Not in the "what will I read next" kind of way but in the "what was that all about" kind of way.
Date published: 2017-12-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Alright Didn't hate it but didn't love it, I found the characters to be hard to relate to and didn't understand a lot of their choices or opinions
Date published: 2017-09-13
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Amazing My first Zadie Smith and perhaps not the best one to have started with. The prose itself was fine but the story left me cold. It started promising enough, our narrator and her friend Tracy, two brown girls dream about being dancers. Our narrator, however, has flat feet and little talent for dance, though she can sing. Tracy is the one with dance talent and her acceptance into a dance school with serve to start the separation of our two friends. Forward to the future, our narrator is an assistant to popular dancer/singer, maybe a Brittany Spears type of entertainer who wants to build a girl's school in West Africa. We go back and forth in time, the past, the present in Africa. I should have loved this part but I found the characters flat, our narrator little changed from her youth, and the pacing incredibly slow. It is hard to overcome the fact that a secondary character, Tracy is so much more interesting, that the parts that include her pulled me in, while the other characters just seem wooden. Cultural identity is explored, old movies, dance but not as much as the title of the book leads us to believe. I found myself skimming, never a good thing, and at the end there were finally a few noteworthy and redeemable events. I will try to read another of her books, as I said the prose itself was worthy, just wished for more interesting aspects in the plot itself. There are many four and five star reviews for this book, keep in mind, this is just my reaction to it and may not be yours.
Date published: 2017-09-09

Editorial Reviews

BESTSELLEROne of The Guardian’s Best Books of 2017One of the NP99: National Post’s best books of 2016“This is a story at once intimate and global, as much about childhood friendship as international aid, as fascinated by the fate of an unemployed single mother as it is by the omnipotence of a world-class singer…Smith’s attention to the grace notes of friendship is as precise as ever…Swing Time uses its extraordinary breadth and its syncopated structure to turn the issues of race and class in every direction…We finally have a big social novel nimble enough to keep all its diverse parts moving gracefully toward a vision of what really matters in this life when the music stops.”—Washington Post   “Smith’s most affecting novel in a decade, one that brings a piercing focus to her favorite theme: the struggle to weave disparate threads of experience into a coherent story of a self…As the book progresses, she interleaves chapters set in the present with ones that deal with memories of college, of home, of Tracey. It is a graceful technique, this metronomic swinging back and forth in time…The novel’s structure feels true to the effect of memory, the way we use the past as ballast for the present. And it feels true, too, to the mutable structure of identity, that complex, composite ‘we,’ liable to shift and break and reshape itself as we recall certain pieces of our earlier lives and suppress others.”—The New Yorker   “Wise and illuminating…Smith is a master stylist, delivering revelatory sentences in prose that never once veers into showiness…The gifted observer narrating Swing Time turns her incisive attention to wide-ranging targets, from white volunteerism in Africa to children’s tendency to lie to their parents to protect them from uncomfortable truths. Through it all, a portrait emerges of an inveterate outsider who time and again attaches herself to shining stars, while always walling off her own true self.”—USA Today   “[Swing Time] makes a remarkable leap in technique. Smith has become increasingly adept at combining social comedy and more existential concerns—manners and morals—through the flexibility of her voice, layering irony on feeling and vice versa. In a culture that often reduces identity politics to a kind of personal branding, Smith works the same questions into a far deeper (and more truly political) consideration of what it takes to form a self…Swing Time’s great achievement is its full-throated and embodied account of the tension between personal potential and what is actually possible.”—The New Republic   “Smith’s thrilling cultural insights never overshadow the wholeness of her characters, who are so keenly observed that one feels witness to their lives.”—O, The Oprah Magazine   “Not just a friendship but our whole mad, unjust world comes under Smith’s beautifully precise scrutiny.”—New York Magazine   “Zadie Smith constantly amazes us with the dexterity of her voice—or better yet, voices…In her latest offering, Smith returns to North West London with new characters and an uncanny ability to explore the complex nature of racism and its impact on individuals and the community.”—Essence   “I can’t deny the spell cast by Swing Time, Zadie Smith’s latest. I can’t hold back from declaring it first a career peak, one she’ll be hard-pressed to top, and beyond that a steep challenge for any novelist out there. Smith might well have left a whole host of her contemporaries cold-cocked…If anyone’s delivering reliable intel from the frontiers of the 21st century cosmopolis, it’s Zadie Smith.”—Brooklyn Rail   “A preternaturally gifted writer with a voice that's street-smart and learned, sassy and philosophical all at the same time.”—The New York Times “[Smith] packs more intelligence, humour and sheer energy into any given scene than anyone else of her generation.”—Sunday Telegraph “An outstanding novelist with a powerful understanding both of what the brain knows and of what love knows.”—Observer “It doesn't seem to matter what she's writing about--Kafka, her father, Liberia, George Clooney. Just placing anything within the magnetic field of her restlessly intelligent brain is enough to make it fascinating.” —Time   “Known for her warmth on the page, Smith is fresh and fierce with this nuanced story of female friendship…Swing Time is an energetic and enigmatic examination of race, class and pop culture.” —Toronto Life