A novel that announces the debut of a preternaturally gifted new writer — a writer who at the age of 24 demonstrates both an instinctive storytelling talent and a fully fashioned voice that's street-smart and learned, sassy and philosophical all at the same time … In recounting the story of Archie and Samad's families, she shows not only how one generation often revolts against another — sons against fathers, daughters against mothers — but also how they repeat their predecessors' mistakes, retrace their ancestors' dreams, and in the case of those who are immigrants, commute nervously between the poles of assimilation and nationalism, the embrace of the Other and a repudiation of its temptations … These characters are all players in Ms. Smith's riotous multicultural drama, living out their stories on her chessboard of postcolonial dreams and frustrations, and yet at the same time, they've been limned with such energy and bemused affection that they possess the quirks and vulnerabilities of friends and neighbors we've known all our lives.
Zadie Smith's dazzling intergenerational first novel White Teeth...offers a hypnotic and multicolored experience, transforming London's outlines into an infinitely complex mandala whose true shape is, in the end, unfixed and unknowable … Archie and Samad's friendship is the dynamic engine that powers Smith's tale...but past, present and future play themselves out in divergent ways for Smith's rather feckless patriarchs and their families … With so much story to deliver, Smith keeps White Teeth humming, not bothering to dally amid the book's panoramic cast, Gordian tangle of symbolism, intricately contrived plot and big issues … Smith is already a wonderfully inventive synthesizer of ideas and a master of style whose prose is playful yet unaffected, mongrel yet cohesive, profound yet funny, vernacular yet lyrical.
Zadie Smith's debut novel is, like the London it portrays, a restless hybrid of voices, tones and textures. Hopscotching through several continents and 150 years of history, White Teeth encompasses a teeming family saga, a sly inquiry into race and identity and a tender-hearted satire on religious antagonism and cultural bemusement … the novel plays with the gap between expectation and reality, most vigorously dramatized in Samad's offspring, ‘the first descendants of the great ocean-crossing experiment’ … White Teeth, for all its tensions, is a peculiarly sunny novel. Its crowdedness, its tangle of competing voices and viewpoints, betoken a society struggling toward accommodation, tolerance, perhaps even fellowship, and a time in which miscegenation is no longer the exception but the norm.