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Swing Time

In my opinion...

I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to review the latest Zadie Smith novel.

The language used and the descriptions are phenomenal, but seem effortless. The hurt felt in a comment such as , ‘ I felt like some old diary she’d found in a drawer,’ we can all empathise with. I was frequently inspired to delve back into youthful memories, based on the conversations between the narrator and Tracey, her friend when they were at school.

The story flips easily backwards and forwards both in time and across continents. It is in Africa that our narrator’s ignorance is , at times, embarrassingly exposed, and her lack of perception is contrasted with her mother’s knowledge and life experience.

This is no pacy thriller, the story evolves slowly, and the main characters can be frustrating in the way they misunderstand each other, and do not seem to learn from their mistakes. I found the character of the unnamed narrator fascinating when she was young, but her lack of development and self knowledge over the latter part of the story did eventually lose my sympathy. Perhaps though, this is what Smith is showing, there really are no easy answers- and that's how life is.

In spite of my reservations about the narrator, I enjoyed reading this book, it is beautifully written , with some fabulous insights and phrases, which make you just want to go back and repeat them out loud, just for the joy of wonderful words.

Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin for my ARC

Want to know more?...


An ambitious, exuberant new novel moving from north west 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, 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 north-west London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time.

I was drinking...

A rum cocktail- a nod to the narrator's Jamaican heritage


My rating...

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