Excerpt from On Beauty by Zadie Smith, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

On Beauty

by Zadie Smith

On Beauty by Zadie Smith
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Sep 2005, 464 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2006, 464 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


‘Baby – try being less facetious,’ she suggested. She reached for an apple and began to cut it up with one of their small knives with the translucent handles, dividing it into irregular chunks. She ate these slowly, one piece after another.

Howard pulled his hair back from his face with both hands. ‘Sorry – I just – you laughed, so I thought maybe something was funny.’

‘How am I meant to react?’ said Kiki, sighing. She laid down her knife and reached out for Levi, who was just passing with his bowl. Grabbing her robust fifteen-year-old by his denim waistband, she pulled him to her easily, forcing him down half a foot to her sitting level so that she could tuck the label of his basketball top back inside the collar. She put her thumbs on each side of his boxer shorts for another adjustment, but he tugged away from her. ‘Mom, man . . .’

‘Levi, honey, please pull those up just a little . . . they’re so low . . . they’re not even covering your ass.’

‘So it’s not funny,’ concluded Howard. It gave him no cheer, digging in like this. But he was still going to persist with this line of questioning, even though it was not the tack upon which he had hoped to start out, and he understood it was a straight journey to nowhere helpful.

‘Oh, Lord, Howard,’ said Kiki. She turned to face him. ‘We can do this in fifteen minutes, can’t we? When the kids are – ’ Kiki rose a little in her seat as she heard the lock of the front door clicking and then clicking again. ‘Zoor, honey, get that please, my knee’s bad today. She can’t get in, go on, help her – ’

Zora, eating a kind of toasted pocket filled with cheese, pointed to the television.

‘Zora – get it now, please, it’s the new woman, Monique – for some reason her keys aren’t working properly – I think I asked you to get a new key cut for her – I can’t be here all the time, waiting in for her – Zoor, will you get off your ass – ’

‘Second arse of the morning,’ noted Howard. ‘That’s nice. Civilized.’

Zora slipped off her stool and down the hallway to the front door. Kiki looked at Howard once more with a questioning penetration, which he met with his most innocent face. She picked up her absent son’s e-mail, lifted her glasses from where they rested on a chain upon her impressive chest and replaced them on the end of her nose.

‘You’ve got to hand it to Jerome,’ she murmured as she read. ‘That boy’s no fool . . . when he needs your attention he sure knows how to get it,’ she said, looking up at Howard suddenly and separating syllables like a bank teller counting bills. ‘Monty Kipps’s daughter. Wham, bam. Suddenly you’re interested.’

Howard frowned. ‘That’s your contribution.’

‘Howard – there’s an egg on the stove, I don’t know who put it on, but the water’s evaporated already – smells nasty. Switch it off, please.’

That’s your contribution?’

Howard watched his wife calmly pour herself a third glass of clamato juice. She picked this up and brought it to her lips, but then paused where she was and spoke again.

‘Really, Howie. He’s twenty. He’s wanting his daddy’s attention – and he’s going the right way about it. Even doing this Kipps internship in the first place – there’s a million internships he could have gone on. Now he’s going to marry Kipps junior? Doesn’t take a Freudian. I’m saying, the worst thing we can do is to take this seriously.’

Excerpted from On Beauty, (c) 2005 Zadie Smith. Reproduced by permission of Penguin Press. All rights reserved.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: All Our Wrong Todays
    All Our Wrong Todays
    by Elan Mastai
    You need a great deal of time to read All Our Wrong Todays, but don't let that put you off. ...
  • Book Jacket: Dadland
    Dadland
    by Keggie Carew
    In her notable debut, Keggie Carew examines the life of her father Tom, a decorated war hero whose ...
  • Book Jacket: Piecing Me Together
    Piecing Me Together
    by Renee Watson
    Race and class in American culture certainly dominate the news right now. These two things seem to ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Atomic Weight of Love
by Elizabeth J. Church

In the spirit of The Aviator's Wife, this resonant debut spans from World War II through the Vietnam War.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Lola
    by Melissa Scrivner Love

    An astonishing debut crime thriller about an unforgettable woman.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Our Short History
    by Lauren Grodstein

    Lauren Grodstein breaks your heart, then miraculously pieces it back together so it's stronger, than before.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

Happiness makes up in height for what it lacks in length.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

O My D B

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 

© BookBrowse LLC 1997-2017. All rights reserved. Information at BookBrowse.com is published with the permission of the copyright holder or their agent.
It is forbidden to copy anything for publication elsewhere without written permission from the copyright holder.



Modal popup -