On Beauty by Zadie Smith

03Feb07

I heard Zadie Smith speak about this book on NPR one day while I was taking a shower. She has a beautiful speaking voice, and here you can see that she is actually freaking gorgeous. Jerk. Anyway, the book sounded intriguing.

It’s about an interracial couple (a white British man and his black American wife) who are in academia, their children, and the pressures that the academy puts on families. It’s interesting to see how people still react strangely to inter”racial” couples and children. Howard, the main character, is an English professor. He is pretty much as white as a person can get. His wife, Kiki, is a housewife and professional. She is a larger black woman, and it seems that Howard fetishizes her blackness. Smith repeatedly writes about Howard staring at Kiki in amazement at her coloring, broadness, and personality. It’s a little weird.

I liked this book, for what it was, but the ending is a little disappointing. Don’t set yourself up for it, though. Just take this book as it comes, and promise me you won’t overthink things. This is what I do when I read, and it sucks. I get confused easily, then I try to figure out what’s going on, when the author is going to tell me on the next page. Take it as it comes, my children, and you will be okay.

I haven’t read any of Smith’s other books, but I would think they are good. On Beauty is smart, funny, sexy, and intelligent (which is different from smart). Smith obviously knows about literature and academic culture. It shows. If you are planning to go into academia (like I am), or think college professors are lame, read this book. They are weirder than you think.
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One Response to “On Beauty by Zadie Smith”

  1. 1 alaya

    i think you should read zadie smith’s other book: white teeth. it’s really good 🙂


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