Swing Time

Swing Time

by Zadie Smith

Overview: Two brown girls dream of being dancersóbut 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

Faith Bowers (10/12/17): This book has a lot of different issues to discuss or digest as you read the novel. It is of two mixed race Estate daughters in London. Estate is the euphemism for assisted housing developments in England. Mostly it is about the nameless first person writer and her best friend growing up Tracey. I listened to this book and enjoyed it as much but I am not sure I would have liked reading it. The protagonist waffles throughout her life, rarely makes a stand and ends up as a Personal Assistant to a very wealthy performer Aimee. Her Jamaican mother works hard to get out of the estate through education and becomes elected to parliament and ends up working with Aimee on this girls school project in Africa.

The book is always about the first person in relation to these other characters and we really donít see any personal growth or development in the protagonist, though we learn all about Tracey, her parents and those who she visits in Africa. Smith brings themes of race, gender, colonialism, capitalism, celebrity among many which is why the novel seems to get messy with the history of their relationships and then the present, until finally the two converge and the book is over.

It sounds as though I didnít really like it, except I did and I enjoyed it much more so than On Beauty. In retrospect, I am sure there is much more to the book in terms of what is purposely left out but I do not read that way. The writing is good and because the book goes back and forth in the time line, the reading/listening keeps you interested.
Rating: ***

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