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Shen Dove Style: Book Review: NW

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Book Review: NW

NW Book Review
NW is the most recent book by British author Zadie Smith who has written recognized books such as White Teeth and On Beauty.  NW revolves around four main characters: Leah, Felix, Keisha (renamed Natalie) and Nathan.  The four main characters grew up in the same housing project in the northwest section of London.  The themes of race, class, love, marriage and friendship permeate the book.  Leah and Keisha are childhood best friends; but the tenor of their relationship has changed now that they are adults and have taken different professional paths.  Smith spends more time on Leah and Keisha's narratives, so readers are able to get to know them more than the other two main characters. Felix and Nathan's narratives take up less of the book but are still key to the overall story. 

NW is definitely a departure from On Beauty (which I read last year) since the story is not told in a linear manner, but rather from the varying points of view of the main characters. At times, I felt like I was reading a book of inter-related short stories.  But this style fits with the tone of the book.  Because the NW focused on the lives of people from a particular section of the city, it was interesting to learn about a section of London through the eyes of the story's major characters characters.

Verdict: Read this book if you have read any of Zadie Smith's previous books or are have an interest in: the city of London, stories with multiple characters with intersecting lives, the themes of race and class in an urban environment.

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