Suggested further reading…

Suggested further reading…

May 07

If you liked Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, you might also like…

 

Monica Ali, Brick Lane (2003)

Brick Lane tells the story of Nazneen, who leaves her home village in Bangladesh to marry a much older man and live in Tower Hamlets, London. A celebrated exploration of immigrant life in Britain at the turn of the Millennium, this is Monica Ali’s debut novel.

 

Hanif Kureishi, The Black Album (1995)

Shahid arrives in London to study literature at college and escape his money-obsessed, British-Pakistani family. There, he is torn between a group of young fanatics who urge him to embrace radical Islam, and the ideals of his liberal college teacher Deedee Osgood. Meanwhile, London in the late 1980s is a melting-pot of cultures, identities, drugs, sexual experimentation, competing political doctrines and social unrest.

 

E. M. Forster, Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905)

One of Zadie Smith’s many intertexts for White Teeth, this is a classic depiction of family politics, prejudice and the clash between cultures. Widowed Lilia Herriton travels to Italy, falls in love and marries the dashing Gino. When she dies in childbirth, her first husband’s family become determined to claim her son and raise him as a ‘civilised’ Englishman.

 

Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (1981) and The Satanic Verses (1988)

Midnight’s Children is Rushdie’s magic-realist exploration of India’s partition and its aftermath. The ‘Midnight’s Children’ of the novel are those children  born between 12am and 1am on August 15, 1947 – the ‘moment’ of India’s Independence and the end of the British Raj. These children, including Saleem Sinai, are born with supernatural powers. Saleem uses his powers to negotiate the many types of displacement brought about by partition in twentieth-century India.

 

Rushdie’s fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, won the 1988 Whitbread Award for novel of the year. The novel partly references the life of the Prophet Muhammad. As depicted in White Teeth, the book was the subject of demonstrations in the UK after the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini, issued a fatwa calling on Muslims to kill Rushdie in punishment for the book’s ‘blasphemy’. Like Midnight’s Children, The Satanic Verses uses magic-realist techniques to tell the story of Indian actors Gibreel Farishta and Saladin Chamcha, who are transformed magically into the Archangel Gibreel and a devil, respectively, when their plane is hijacked and explodes over the English Channel.

4 comments

  1. Barbara Schiff

    Another author she brins to mind in some ways is Andra Levy-not in style but in subject matter. I was surprised she didn’t come up in further reading.

    • bookclub

      This is an excellent observation, Barbara. White Teeth is indeed like a contemporary revisiting of many of the issues raised in Small Island – race, family, London, the future etc.

  2. Mark de Groot

    First book I’ve read where I’ve thought the comments on the back cover actually made sense……”funny, generous, big hearted”.
    And unputdownable!
    Tho I haven’t finished it yet I’m enjoying every page.
    Love the way the characters just keep coming and coming.
    It’s like Dickens…but without the melodrama.
    And from the text itself I would not be able to hazard a guess at the author’s age, gender or ethnicity

    • bookclub

      You make an interesting point about feeling you can’t put your finger on the author’s gender/race/age. Do you think that has enhanced your reading experience? Should we read all books ‘blind’?

      (A particularly poignant angle for a contemporary women’s writing book group!)

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