Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Table of Contents: On Beauty

On BeautyAuthor: Zadie Smith
Publisher/Year: Hamish Hamilton, 2000
Synopsis: Set in contemporary times at an upscale university outside of Boston, her story revolves around two families, the Belseys and the Kippses. Howard Belsey is a white liberal academic and Rembrandt scholar with a black wife. Kiki, and three children. His long-time rival, Sir Montague Kipps, a Caribbean-born conservative, will also now teach at the same university. The oldest of the Belsey children, Jerome, falls in love with Kipps' daughter. Howard's life is further complicated when Kiki learns of an affair he's had with a colleague named Claire, his daughter falls for a young street rapper who takes a poetry course taught by Claire, his youngest son speaks only in gangsta rap, and Kiki strikes up a friendship with Kipps' invalid wife.

What Others Have To Say
The New York Times
"Smith possesses a captivating authorial voice, giving us that rare thing: a novel that is as affecting as it is entertaining, as provocative as it is humane."

San Francisco Chronicle
"It is packed with tangents on the iPod, the seepage of pornography into sex lives, the peculiar fashion imperatives of hip-hop, and glimpses of life in America under Bush.

Seattle Times
"Smith has a grand time hooking up the players in her big cast of characters in every combination possible. Her homage is mainly to Forster, but there are nods to Iris Murdoch, too, whose smarts and flair for farcical drama Smith shares."

The Guardian
"Beautifully observed details of clothing, weather, cityscapes and the bustling human background of drivers, shoppers and passers-by are constantly being folded into the central flow of thought, feeling and action, giving even the most mundane moments - Levi riding a bus into Boston, Howard setting up a projector - a dense, pulsing life."

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