by Zadie Smith
An ambitious, exuberant new novel moving from northwest London to West Africa, from the multi-award-winning author of White Teethand 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, about 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.
Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them. Moving from northwest London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time.
“Smith’s most affecting novel in a decade, one that brings a piercing focus to her favorite theme: the struggle to weave disparate threads of experience into a coherent story of a self…As the book progresses, she interleaves chapters set in the present with ones that deal with memories of college, of home, of Tracey. It is a graceful technique, this metronomic swinging back and forth in time…The novel’s structure feels true to the effect of memory, the way we use the past as ballast for the present. And it feels true, too, to the mutable structure of identity, that complex, composite ‘we,’ liable to shift and break and reshape itself as we recall certain pieces of our earlier lives and suppress others.”
—The New Yorker
“It doesn't seem to matter what she's writing about--Kafka, her father, Liberia, George Clooney. Just placing anything within the magnetic field of her restlessly intelligent brain is enough to make it fascinating.”
“Known for her warmth on the page, Smith is fresh and fierce with this nuanced story of female friendship…Swing Time is an energetic and enigmatic examination of race, class and pop culture.”
“A preternaturally gifted writer with a voice that's street-smart and learned, sassy and philosophical all at the same time.”
—The New York Times