Swing Time (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

When a writer is as talented as Zadie Smith, plot is superfluous--just reading her sentences is enjoyment enough. That being said, she crafts one hell of a story in SWING TIME! She takes the reader back and forth, hopscotching through the years and around the world, exploring giant issues like race, culture, gender, and identity. It's a simple, vibrant, compelling story, one that only Zadie could write.


Remember Jason Russell? Probably not. I forgot his name. I had to google "Kony 2012" to figure out who I wanted to compare Aimee, a character in this book, to. Remember Kony 2012? That largely misguided foray into international public philanthropy that America undertook, at least via the internet, back in 2012? Where we tried to save Uganda from overlord war criminal Joseph Kony by watching a Youtube video and admonishing the Horrors of Africa with punctuated gasps on Twitter? (Turns out we do that kind of a lot, and to what end we've still yet to discover.) This book reminds me of that whole Thing. It criticizes with such precision the idea that America and its phalanx of celebrity do-gooders can repair the world we've played a major role in destroying with money and positive attitude, but without bothering to understand why a situation has occurred, or how we might have played a part in its having occurred to begin with. But this fails to convey the true quality of the book. It's a novel about exploitation in more than one way, but it's also a fast-reading novel about a girl dealing with the problems we all face: weird friends, weird bosses, weird fathers, and getting caught, on video, doing something she'd never live down. Written with Smith's classic humor-laced tragic wit, it's one of my favorites of 2016.



A New York Times bestseller * Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction * Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize

An ambitious, exuberant new novel moving from North West London to West Africa, from the multi-award-winning author of White Teeth and On Beauty.

Two brown girls dream of being dancers--but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It's a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either.

Tracey makes it to the chorus line but struggles with adult life, while her friend leaves the old neighborhood behind, traveling the world as an assistant to a famous singer, Aimee, observing close up how the one percent live.

But when Aimee develops grand philanthropic ambitions, the story moves from London to West Africa, where diaspora tourists travel back in time to find their roots, young men risk their lives to escape into a different future, the women dance just like Tracey--the same twists, the same shakes--and the origins of a profound inequality are not a matter of distant history, but a present dance to the music of time.

About the Author

Zadie Smith is the author of the novels White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, and NW, as well as a collection of essays, Changing My Mind. Swing Time is her fifth novel. Her new collection of essays, Feel Free, is on sale 2/6/2018.

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9781594203985
ISBN-10: 1594203989
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publication Date: November 15th, 2016
Pages: 464
Language: English
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