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The Resource Swing time, Zadie Smith

Swing time, Zadie Smith

Label
Swing time
Title
Swing time
Statement of responsibility
Zadie Smith
Creator
Author
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Summary
Two dancers with different approaches to their craft share a complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, in a story that transitions from northwest London to West Africa
Member of
Storyline
Tone
Writing style
Character
Award
  • Booklist Editors' Choice, 2016
  • LibraryReads Favorites, 2016
  • New York Times Notable Book, 2016
Review
  • /* Starred Review */ The unnamed narrator in Smith’s agile and discerning bildungsroman is entranced and provoked by a Fred Astaire dance number in the movie Swing Time. “Swing time” is also a feat her narrator performs as she pivots from the disastrous present back to the past as she tries to understand her plummet by telling her story and that of her childhood best friend, Tracey. Though passionate and knowledgeable about dance, especially pioneering African American tap stars Jeni LeGon and the Nicholas Brothers, the narrator doesn’t have the body for it, while Tracey has the requisite build and drive. Both “brown girls” lived in a London housing project in the early 1980s—the narrator with her ambitiously political Jamaican mother and her laid-back white father, Tracey with her white mother, while longing for her black father whose appearances were infrequent and fraught. Close as they are, the girls are destined for diverging paths as Tracey stakes her future on dance, and the narrator muddles through a goth phase and college, then lucks into a job as a personal assistant to an international pop star, the fiercely willful, strikingly pale Aimee, who hijacks her life. Smith’s narrator’s anxiety and recalcitrance are legion, but through her omnivorous senses, wary skepticism, and ballistic wit we experience vitally detailed settings and dramatic and ludicrous situations that put to the test assumptions about self and community, creativity and activism. The Ginger Rogers to various Fred Astaires—from her mother to Tracey to Aimee—she recounts her disconcerting misadventures in London, New York, and, most intensely, a small, poor, tyrannized West African country in which Aimee decides to build a girls’ school, while incorporating African dance into her act. As the narrator struggles to find her way through a maze of morally dubious desires and demands, Smith postulates equations of power in relationships complicated by race, class, gender, celebrity, culture, politics, and religion.With homage to dance as a unifying force, arresting observations (“elegance attracted me . . . . I liked the way it hid pain”), exceptionally diverse and magnetizing characters, and lashing satire, Swing Time is an acidly funny, fluently global, and head-spinning novel about the quest for meaning, exaltation, and love. Excitement always surrounds much-lauded Smith’s books (NW, 2012), and this tale of friendship lost and found is going to be big. -- Seaman, Donna (Reviewed 10/1/2016) (Booklist, vol 113, number 3, p24)
  • Spanning over twenty years and two continents, Smith's new novel is a charming account of one woman's coming-of-age. Smith's unnamed narrator, a mixed-race child lives in one of London's many low-end housing units. She meets Tracey and the two are bonded over the shared experience of being poor and "brown" in a class that is predominantly white. As the two stumble towards womanhood, the differences become more stark and divisive, and their friendship is fractured by Tracey's final, unforgivable act. This book will appeal to lovers of character-driven fiction. -- Jennifer Wilson, Delphi Public Library, Delphi, IN. (LibraryReads, November 2016)
  • /* Starred Review */ At a dance class offered in a local church in London in the early 1980s, two brown girls recognize themselves in one another and become friends. Tracey has a sassy white mum, a black father in prison, and a pink Barbie sports car. The other girl, the narrator of Smith's (NW) powerful and complex novel, remains unnamed. Although she lives in the same public housing as Tracey, she's being raised among books and protests by an intellectual black feminist mother and a demure white father. As with Smith's previous work, the nuances of race relations are both subtle and explicit, not the focus of the book and yet informing every interaction. The girls both love dancing, but this commonality reflects their differences more than their similarities. Whereas Tracey's physical grace is confident and intuitive, the narrator is drawn to something more ephemeral: "a dancer was a man from nowhere, without parents or siblings, without a nation or people, without obligations of any kind, and this was exactly the quality I loved," she thinks. The book tracks the girls as they move in different directions through adolescence and the final, abrupt fissures of their affection; it also follows the narrator into adulthood, where she works for a decade as the personal assistant to a world-famous (white) pop star named Aimee. In this role, she's able to embody what she admired about dancers as a child: she travels constantly, rarely sees her mother, and has lost touch with everyone other than her employer. Once Aimee begins to build a girls' school in an unnamed Muslim West African country, the novel alternates between that world and the London of the girls' youth. In both places, poverty is a daily struggle and the juxtaposition makes for poignant parallels and contrasts. Though some of the later chapters seem unnecessarily protracted, the story is rich and absorbing, especially when it highlights Smith's ever-brilliant perspective on pop culture. Agent: Georgia Garrett, Rogers, Coleridge and White. (Nov.)
			 --Staff (Reviewed 08/01/2016) (Publishers Weekly, vol 263, issue 31, p)
  • /* Starred Review */ A keen, controlled novel about dance and blackness steps onto a stage of cultural land mines.Smith, who wowed the world at 24 with her debut novel, White Teeth (2000), once again crafts quicksilver fiction around intense friendship, race, and class. She opens with a scene of that social mediafueled nightmare: public humiliation. Id lost my job, a certain version of my life, my privacy, the unnamed narrator tells us. She was put on a plane, sent back home, to England, set up with a temporary rental in St. John's Wood. From this three-paragraph prologue, the story jumps abruptly back 24 years to 1982, when the narrator, a horse-faced seven-year-old, meets Tracey, another brown girl in North West London arriving for dance class. The result is a novel-length current of competition, love, and loathing between them. Tracey has the tap-dancing talent; the narrators gifts are more subterranean: elegance attracted me. I liked the way it hid pain. Tracey struggles for a life onstage while the narrator flies aloft, becoming personal assistant to Aimee, an Australian pop star: I scheduled abortions, hired dog walkers, ordered flowers, wrote Mothers Day cards, applied creams, administered injections, squeezed spots, and wiped very occasional break-up tears. Smith is dazzling in her specificity, evoking predicaments, worldviews, and personalities with a camera-vivid precision. The mothers of the two women cube the complexity of this work, an echo of the four protagonists in Smiths last novel, NW (2012). All their orbits are distorted by Aimee, the Madonna/Angelina Jolielike celebrity impulsively building a girls school in West Africa. The novel toggles its short chapters between decades and continents, swinging time and geography. Aimee and her entourage dabble in philanthropy; Tracey and the narrator grope toward adulthood; and Fred Astaire, dancing in blackface in Swing Time, becomes an avatar of complexity presiding over the whole thing. In her acknowledgements, Smith credits an anthropological study, Islam, Youth and Modernity in the Gambia. Its insights flare against a portrait of Aimee, on the other side of the matrix, procuring a baby as easily as she might order a limited-edition handbag from Japan. Moving, funny, and grave, this novel parses race and global politics with Fred Astaires or Michael Jackson's grace.(Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 1900)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
10539802
Cataloging source
AZZPT
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Smith, Zadie
Dewey number
823.914
Index
no index present
LC call number
PR6069.M59
LC item number
S95 2016
Literary form
non fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Women, Black
  • Women
  • Friendship
  • Female friendship
  • Dancers
  • London (England)
  • Africa, West
Target audience
adult
Label
Swing time, Zadie Smith
Instantiates
Publication
Copyright
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
23 cm.
Extent
453 pages
Isbn
9781594203985
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • 953164490
  • (OCoLC)953164490
Label
Swing time, Zadie Smith
Publication
Copyright
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Dimensions
23 cm.
Extent
453 pages
Isbn
9781594203985
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • 953164490
  • (OCoLC)953164490

Library Locations

    • James City County LibraryBorrow it
      7770 Croaker Road, Williamsburg, VA, 23188, US
      37.377573 -76.770995
    • Williamsburg LibraryBorrow it
      515 Scotland Street, Williamsburg, VA, 23185, US
      37.377573 -76.770995
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