Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

White Teeth

Academic journal article The Virginia Quarterly Review

White Teeth

Article excerpt

White Teeth, by Zadie Smith.

Zadie Smith's debut novel White Teeth has reaped flattering comparisons to the fiction of Salman Rushdie, Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon, even Charles Dickens. Her rambunctious style may have a certain genre-debt to the encyclopedic, postmodern, or picaresque, but unlike some of her forbears Smith's inventive comic verve does not leech away the interiority of her characters. She sets her story in a multiracial North London neighborhood of halaal shops, Jamaican Jehovah's Witnesses, penny laundromats, and a pub which has kept its Irish name and accouterments despite having been taken over many years ago by a family of Iraqis who all share a bad skin condition and the name Abdul, forcing them to hyphenate their first name with nicknames such as Abdul-Mickey, Abdul-Colin, or Abdul-Jimmy. The narrative follows the twisty friendship between two families whose fathers-Archibald Jones and Samad Iqbal-fight in the British army together during World War II, then move to the same neighborhood and watch their children age and rebel. …

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