The best way to start reading Zadie Smith is right at the beginning – at least that’s what critics believe – so I started on her first novel, ‘White Teeth’. What a giant and amazing beast it is.
White Teeth is about many things: friendship, culture, history, pride, family and roots. More than anything though, the book is about hope.
The book starts on New Year’s Day 1975, when Englishman and World War II veteran Archie Jones, a 47-year-old man whose disturbed Italian wife has just walked out on him, is attempting to commit suicide by gassing himself in his car when a chance interruption causes him to change his mind.
The book centres around his frienship with fellow war veteran and best friend Samad Iqbal, a Bengali muslim who works as a waiter at a restaurant.
The storyline jumps from their time in the war, to the families and lives they are building for themselves in England. The story is populated by small secrets, backstories and good intentions.
White Teeth might be hefty, but it is an easy read with many laugh-out-loud moments. More importantly, it beautifully ties together small moments in these characters lives that prove to be the most important ones of all.