Reading for Me

The Books I Have Read…..Just for Me

#13: White Teeth (Zadie Smith)

on June 20, 2015

National bestseller White Teeth was the first novel by author Zadie Smith. First published in 2000, the book is a mixture of humor, wit, and in-depth examination of the human condition. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and plan to re-read it again in the future.

White Teeth opens with a gripping scene in which Samad is attempting to commit suicide when his plans are foiled by a well-meaning shop keeper. Samad is a practicing Hindu who lives in England along with his best friend, Archie. The two had served together in World War II (although they had seen little fighting). Their common experiences linked them for life. Now living in London, Samad finds himself struggling to pass on the traditions of his Indian heritage to his children. The father fears that his sons have been negatively influenced by the Western way of life and have become too English. In order to halt the effect of modern society on his children in his personal struggle against modern progress, Samad makes a decision that will forever impact the lives of his entire family. The novel traces the effects of that single decision upon the family and all they encounter.

White Teeth beautifully explores the inevitability of change in modern society. Advancements are made in science while fanatical religious groups seek to halt the progress. Younger generations find fault with the ideologies of their parents. The old desperately struggle to maintain the familiarity and tradition of the past. In each of these struggles, everyone thinks their ideals are correct and should not be opposed. Conflict arises, events are set in motion that cannot be halted, and the generational and ideological chasms deepen. Smith forces the 21st century reader to face his own biases and consider the impact they are having on their family and society as a whole. White Teeth is a tremendous read that I think will quickly become a modern classic.

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