Dickinson College Humanities Program in Norwich

White Teeth

August 13th, 2009 · 3 Comments

Since it was only optional and I’m guessing we won’t discuss it as a group in London, I thought I’d start a thread on Zadie Smith’s White Teeth. I just finished it yesterday, and I thought it was incredible. I’d say that Salaam Brick Lane probably gave me a much better idea of the diversity of immigrant experiences in London, but White Teeth addresses themes integral to all immigration with such well developed characters and a clever tone and format. Among the themes I thought most relevant to our London course are the malleability of identity (in a place as full of possibility and diversity as London), the differing eastern and western attitudes toward history (especially as it relates to Samad and his relationship with Archie), as well as the primacy of history (trying to run away from it or trying to hold onto it) in the lives of recent immigrants.

Did anyone else like White Teeth as much as I did? What else did you think was interesting or relevant? For those who read one of the other optional novels: have other writers drawn on these same themes when writing about immigrants in London?

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