Winner of the 2006 Orange Prize for fiction, another bestselling masterwork from the celebrated author of Swing Time and White Teeth
Having hit bestseller lists from the New York Times to the San Francisco Chronicle, this wise, hilarious novel reminds us why Zadie Smith has rocketed to literary stardom. On Beauty is the story of an interracial family living in the university town of Wellington, Massachusetts, whose misadventures in the culture wars—on both sides of the Atlantic—serve to skewer everything from family life to political correctness to the combustive collision between the personal and the political. Full of dead-on wit and relentlessly funny, this tour de force confirms Zadie Smith's reputation as a major literary talent.
Truly human, fully ourselves, beautiful," muses a character in Smith's third novel, an intrepid attempt to explore the sad stuff of adult life, 21st century style: adultery, identity crises and emotional suffocation, interracial and intraracial global conflicts and religious zealotry. Like Smith's smash debut, White Teeth (2000), this work gathers narrative steam from the clash between two radically different families, with a plot that explicitly parallels Howards End. A failed romance between the evangelical son of the messy, liberal Belseys Howard is Anglo-WASP and Kiki African-American and the gorgeous daughter of the staid, conservative, Anglo-Caribbean Kipps leads to a soulful, transatlantic understanding between the families' matriarchs, Kiki and Carlene, even as their respective husbands, the art professors Howard and Monty, amass mat riel for the culture wars at a fictional Massachusetts university. Meanwhile, Howard and Kiki must deal with Howard's extramarital affair, as their other son, Levi, moves from religion to politics. Everyone theorizes about art, and everyone searches for connections, sexual and otherwise. A very simple but very funny joke that Howard, a Rembrandt scholar, hates Rembrandt allows Smith to discourse majestically on some of the master's finest paintings. The articulate portrait of daughter Zora depicts the struggle to incorporate intellectual values into action. The elaborate Forster homage, as well as a too-neat alignment between characters, concerns and foils, threaten Smith's insightful probing of what makes life complicated (and beautiful), but those insights eventually add up. "There is such a shelter in each other," Carlene tells Kiki; it's a take on Forster's "Only Connect ," but one that finds new substance here.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Characters Beautifully created
A study of people who think they know their direction. Excellently written.
Beautifully written ... but what else?
I was really expecting more from the plot with this novel. The character development was there, yet each character was unlikeable and the “climax” of the book was at the end and was barely climactic at that. I was lead on by the positive reviews but the story was a bore to me.
Zadie Smith is bona fide literary genius. Her descriptions are so vivid and easily perceived, you feel as though you're not only in the novel, but that the characters are right there next to you acting out their story lines.
Her other two (White Teeth, Autograph Man) were every bit as endearing, but for some reason, neither is available on the exquisite IPAD yet.
Best of luck with all future endeavors Zadie!