Zadie Smith: NW
Zadie Smith has definitely evolved as a writer, and it’s not always for the better. What started out as a spontaneous and genuine style in White Teeth and On Beauty has developed into a carefully thought-out literary work. In NW, Zadie wants to show the world what kind of author she wants to be and the influences that mark her literary aspirations. My guess is that she no longer wants to be identified as a multicultural writer that tells simple stories about families from different races and backgrounds living in the same place. Well, the plot of NW does not really stand out, since once again, the author sets the story around two girls, Keisha and Leah, ebony and ivory, growing up in Zadie’s beloved Northwest London. Unfortunately, it just didn’t do it for me this time. I was not able to connect with the characters as I did with Irie Jones and Kiki Belsey. I understand that writers like to tap into the details of their city, the memories of their upbringing and the challenges they had to face growing up. I respect that. But to me, Zadie has already dug so deep into the corners of London and the intricacies of a racially mixed society, and offered us the raw gems that are her earlier books: sincere portraits of complicated characters that are trying to find their place in a mosaic of races, religions and beliefs. So where is the added value in NW? Could it be that this time Zadie was finally able to write her ultimate ode to the city she grew up in? But what universal literary value does that confer her? I honestly believe that an author that only writes about familiar entourages and situations lacks imagination. Zadie has found her cozy place in the literary world and has set a flag there. Aware of the lack of a new product, she decided to paint her recent tableau with new colors. Instead of the humoristic intellectual style that I fell in love with before, Zadie decided that it wasn’t enough anymore. So this time she flirts with bits and pieces of post-modernism by trying to fragment her text, rupture the chronological sequence and create a train of disconnected phrases and ideas. It just seems to me that she put a lot of thought in changing the form not the content. If she wanted to emulate her literary inspirations, she could have also injected her text with new blood.
Zadie is on the verge of literary maturity. She wants to be bigger and better, but to do that, she has to let go of her White Teeth.