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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.
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Satisfying and thoughtful (Daily Telegraph)
Publisher's description. Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is Zadie Smith's most ambitious novel yet: a story about friendship and music and true identity, how they shape us and how we can survive them. Moving from north-west London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time. (Penguin)
Zadie Smith is the best writer of our generation, and Swing Time is her best book to date. As the title promises, the novel swings and pulsates with life, filled with emotion, excited by intellect and haunted by sadness. What a miracle that literature can still do things other forms of art cannot. What a miracle that Zadie Smith is among us, writing. (Gary Shteyngart)
[Smith] packs more intelligence, humour and sheer energy into any given scene than anyone else of her generation (Sunday Telegraph)
Zadie Smith's finest novel. Extraordinary, virtuosic... The novel does what only literature can and what only great literature will: forces us to assess the very vocabulary with which we speak of human experience (Observer)
Endlessly satisfying... [Zadie Smith] has never written better. Pitch-perfect, masterful and sophisticated (Telegraph)
Zadie Smith at her finest... [An] unflinching portrait of friendship... [A] triumph (Guardian)
Ingenious, inspired... Zadie Smith's new novel is very good indeed (Sunday Times)
Shrewd observation and sly satire, profundity and genuine purpose, as well as some of the most heart-stoppingly lyrical writing of her career (Scotland on Sunday)
A powerful story of lives marred by secrets, unfulfilled potential and the unjustness of the world... interwoven with another beautiful story of the dances people do to rise above it all (Economist)
'Superb. One of the most entertaining novels you'll read this year' The Times Literary Supplement
How do we become who we are?
Can we ever truly escape our origins?
Must we dance to the music of our time?
Set in London, New York and West Africa, Swing Time is about two brown girls from Willesden who dream of being dancers. Only one - Tracey - has the talent. But the other has ideas which take her further than she could ever have imagined. It is a story of finding happiness in the meanest of places and feeling sad when all around you are happy. It's about the choices we make and the choices made for us. Above all, it's a tale of the friendships that anchor us, define us, and change us forever.
'Smith's finest [novel]. Truly marvellous, so extraordinary. Has brilliant things to say about race, class and gender' Observer
'A thrilling, multilayered tour-de-force' Los Angeles Times
'Smith has never written better. Her dialogue is pitch-perfect, her comic timing masterful' Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year
'Dazzling' Irish Independent
'A true, beautifully executed tragicomedy. Some of the most heart-stoppingly lyrical writing of Smith's career' Scotland on Sunday
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