Swing Time

Swing Time

Book - 2016
Average Rating:
18
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"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"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York :, Penguin Press,, 2016
ISBN: 9781594203985
1594203989
9780735222472
0735222479
9780143111641
9780735222472
Characteristics: 453 pages ; 25 cm

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September 19, 2017


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WPLBookClub Feb 01, 2018

The Armchair Books and Whistler Public Library Book Club read Zadie Smith's Swing Time in January 2018. What a divisive pick! Of the 16 people in attendance (including the facilitator), only 7 or 8 of us could finish (and really enjoyed) this novel - the others either abandoned the book after a few chapters, or struggled through as much as they could as our January meeting loomed. The group's consensus was that, while Swing Time is well written, it needed a thorough edit - we agreed that there was probably a tight, 200 page novel trapped within this 450 page story. That being said, we had a GREAT discussion, as we always do when the group is polarized.

We particularly enjoyed discussing:

- the nameless narrator - this really hit home how passive and aimless the main character was. For the most part, our group thought that Tracey was far more interesting than the narrator!
- the murky genre that is "literary fiction" - what makes these books such critical darlings, when the general reading public finds them so challenging? It often seems that novels that win literary awards are difficult to read/somewhat alienating to most readers.
- mother/daughter relationships and female friendships. Our nameless narrator was rendered more interesting simply through her proximity to her mother, to Tracey, and to Aimee.

p
pterry25
Jul 02, 2017

kind of a soap opera. But I can see why some have enjoyed this work. Touches upon some interesting areas. It would be interesting to find out the back story for some of the plot points (adopting an African baby, starting a school).

x
xiaojunbpl12
Jun 13, 2017

I was shadowing the narrator (protagonist), in her projection, to watch over various characters performing in a life-long musical, a distance kept between their stage and my seat.
Mesmerizing, juxtaposed with unexpected temporal and spatial effects, from time to time, I only managed to steady my foothold while my thoughts scattered about, hardly swing in tempo.

After Epilogue, I revisited Prologue, I found the rhythm. An individual scene, which had appeared to be less probable or even absurd on the spot at the time, has become an integral part of a coherent whole. There are so much for me to reflect upon, a unique reading experience is what I treasure first.

r
rcplrozkutler
May 17, 2017

Some of the deeper aspects of the book explores corrupting influences – both of fame and by abusing money in efforts to solve social problems. Perhaps the corrupting influence of doing the wrong work? My book group was split on it three of us liked it very much, three found it too uneven and a couple didn’t make it.

s
Squid_1
May 17, 2017

It was disjointed, disconnected, and did not grab my interest.

u
uncommonreader
May 13, 2017

A novel about gender, race and class told through the story of a friendship between two girls whose lives diverge as adults. Interesting, if a little long.

l
lornagee
Apr 07, 2017

Our book club HATED it. I'm giving it two and a half stars because the author is talented with a facile use of language. That being said, it left me wanting more than a "meh" or "huh?" Shame, really.

x
xiaojunbpl12
Apr 01, 2017

I was shadowing the narrator (protagonist), in her projection, to watch over various characters performing in a life-long musical, a distance kept between their stage and my seat.
Mesmerizing, juxtaposed with unexpected temporal and spatial effects, from time to time, I only managed to steady my foothold while my thoughts scattered about, hardly swing in tempo.

After Epilogue, I revisited Prologue, I found the rhythm. An individual scene, which had appeared to be less probable or even absurd on the spot at the time, has become an integral part of a coherent whole. There are so much for me to reflect upon, a unique reading experience is what I treasure first.

d
dblittle
Mar 27, 2017

My first Zadie Smith book. I very much enjoyed her prose.

n
njon38
Mar 19, 2017

Zadie Smith writes beautiful prose. Swing Time, set in both London and West Africa has at its heart the childhood friendship of two biracial girls in London. The narrator who is considered black in London and white in Africa contemplates what is the role of place on your life arc. How much do parents matter and how much does the time and place in which you spend your formative years "Smith calls them the middle passage" matter. The dicotomy between the materialism of London and the simple village life in Africa is also contemplated.

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