NW: Book summary and reviews of NW by Zadie Smith

NW

A Novel

By Zadie Smith

NW
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  • Published in USA  Sep 2012,
    400 pages.

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Book Summary

This is the story of a city.

The northwest corner of a city. Here you’ll find guests and hosts, those with power and those without it, people who live somewhere special and others who live nowhere at all.  And many people in between.

Every city is like this. Cheek-by-jowl living. Separate worlds.

And then there are the visitations: the rare times a stranger crosses a threshold without permission or warning, causing a disruption in the whole system. Like the April afternoon a woman came to Leah Hanwell’s door, seeking help, disturbing the peace, forcing Leah out of her isolation…

Zadie Smith’s brilliant tragi-comic new novel follows four Londoners - Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan – as they try to make adult lives outside of Caldwell, the council estate of their childhood. From private houses to public parks, at work and at play, their London is a complicated place, as beautiful as it is brutal, where the thoroughfares hide the back alleys and taking the high road can sometimes lead you to a dead end.

Depicting the modern urban zone – familiar to town-dwellers everywhere – Zadie Smith’s NW is a quietly devastating novel of encounters, mercurial and vital, like the city itself.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Smith's masterful ability to suspend all these bits and parts in the amber which is London refracts light, history, and the humane beauty of seeing everything at once." - Publishers Weekly

"Smith takes big risks here, but some might need to read this twice before all the pieces fit together, and more conventionally minded readers might abandon it in frustration." - Kirkus

"By limiting most of her authorial prose to character thought and by delivering gobs of visceral dialogue Smith virtually embeds the reader alongside her broad cast of NW residents. One does not read NW so much as eavesdrop on it. Smith has moved beyond the somewhat hyper comic tone of White Teeth and the descriptive indulgences of On Beauty to write her most empathetic, humanly vulnerable novel to date. NW is a novel of voices, all of which deserve to be heard." - Shelf Awareness

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Author Information

Zadie Smith Author Biography

Zadie Smith was born in north-west London in 1975, and has lived there most of her life. She is the author of three novels (White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty), one book of essays (Changing My Mind), and editor of one anthology (The Book of Other People).

White Teeth was her first novel and awarded the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread Prize for a first novel, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction, the Frankfurt eBook Award for Best Fiction Work and the Overall Commonwealth Writers Prize, among others. On Beauty was shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2005 and won The Orange Prize for Fiction 2006. She was previously been a writer-in-residence at London's Institute of Contemporary Arts and a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

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