NW by Zadie Smith – Book 24

“NW” by Zadie Smith was . . . different.  Smith’s writing style was unique, and varied depending on what section of the book you are reading.

The book follows three individuals, telling their stories of their lives, woes, and troubles in NW corner of the same city.  The stories are separate, but have similar notes in them, and are interconnected in some ways.

But I’m going to be honest, I just didn’t get it fully.  I understood each person’s difficulties but not how it was wrapped up together in the end.  The ending just left me confused.

So, if you are a super literary type, then you might enjoy the writing style and get more out of the novel than I did.  I’ll try to read another Zadie Smith, but I wouldn’t really recommend this tough-to-read novel to the masses.

But while I was seeing if Smith had a website, I found this interesting tidbit: Apparently, Jay-Z bought Zadie Smith a fish sandwich.  More here, if you’re interested.

Want a better synopsis? Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

“This is the story of a city. The northwest corner of a city. Here you’ll find guests and hosts, those with power and those without it, people who live somewhere special and others who live nowhere at all.  And many people in between.

Every city is like this. Cheek-by-jowl living. Separate worlds.

And then there are the visitations: the rare times a stranger crosses a threshold without permission or warning, causing a disruption in the whole system. Like the April afternoon a woman came to Leah Hanwell’s door, seeking help, disturbing the peace, forcing Leah out of her isolation…

Zadie Smith’s brilliant tragi-comic new novel follows four Londoners – Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan – as they try to make adult lives outside of Caldwell, the council estate of their childhood. From private houses to public parks, at work and at play, their London is a complicated place, as beautiful as it is brutal, where the thoroughfares hide the back alleys and taking the high road can sometimes lead you to a dead end.

Depicting the modern urban zone – familiar to town-dwellers everywhere – Zadie Smith’s NW is a quietly devastating novel of encounters, mercurial and vital, like the city itself.”

What book have you read recently that just left you stumped?


10 thoughts on “NW by Zadie Smith – Book 24

  1. I was excited when I saw that you were reviewing this. I know there is a giant buzz about this book right now, but I saw a “meh” review somewhere and I was wondering if I should bother. I can’t remember where I saw that review, of course, but I do recall that it came from somewhere a bit fancy. (Not from one of us amateurs, lol)

    I’m kinda rambling here. I’m just glad you reviewed it so I don’t have to read it. Ha, thanks for doing all the work Rebecca!


    • Yeah, while the writing style was cool, I felt like I wasn’t smart enough to “get” the ending and what the book was all about in the end. So, yeah, it’s probably a skip for you, too!

      Although, a woman on twitter was talking about how White Teeth and On Beauty by Smith are much easier, less complicated reads. So I’ll give those a try at some point!


    • Some people enjoy the book! And I did enjoy reading most of it (although the first section was kind of tough to read) because her style of writing really is different. I’d be interested to hear your opinions when you finish the book, Heather!


  2. Zadie Smith seems to be an author that everyone either loves or feels very “meh” about. I’ve only read her book “On Beauty,” but I didn’t like it at all. None of the characters were even remotely likable, and the book really dragged for me. I’m a little bit relieved you didn’t love NW; I feel more justified in having no desire to read it!


    • Yeah, I heard “On Beauty” and “White Teeth” were easier reads, so I am going to try at least one more Zadie Smith book. . . but NW was a challenge for sure! And I don’t think I enjoyed reaching the finish.


  3. Thanks for taking the time to come back to my ‘place’ and comment. This book has certainly polarised readers. I think Zadie Smith likes to push boundaries and she may secretly like all this talk (good and bad) about her books. As you know, I enjoyed NW but I certainly can see some of its flaws. Onto the next book I say!


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