Tag Archives: White Teeth

Book: White Teeth

White Teeth by Zadie Smith
penguin.com.au

Aimless, sexless, pointless. Why the hype?
541 pages, ★★

White Teeth isn’t funny. What the reviews call “wit” is actually snide and banal comments from silly characters. To understand this book’s “relentlessly funny, clever” jokes requires a familiarity with London’s ethnic stereotypes, which I lack. Other “humour” is directed at ethnic accents—comedy which might work well in a pantomime, but falls flat in a written novel.

The only sex in White Teeth is when two morons have sex on a prayer mat. I found this neither humorous nor inventive—not shocking, not sexy, not even important. It was just dull.

By page 330, I already cared about none of the characters. There was no longer an obvious protagonist, nor any continuity to the plot. Admittedly, I started to skim-read.

This book screams, “LONDON!”. You’re inundated with British brands and euphemisms throughout. It focusses on London’s ethnic diversity, particularly the lives of immigrants from the Indian subcontinent and their descendants. But rather than gaining the readers’ respect, these characters seem to be treated as the subject of slapstick humour. The author depicts them as silly.

I’ve been trying to categorise books recently, and have determined that White Teeth lies somewhere between The Casual Vacancy (four stars) and The Time Traveller’s Wife (two stars)White Teeth, however, lacks the complex, twisted ending of The Vasual Vacancy, and lacks the character development (and sex) found in The Time Traveller’s Wife.

All I learned from White Teeth is that I don’t like books about daily British life. I like more exotic fiction. Please give me more of Haruki Murakami books. ★★