Swing Time (Hardcover)

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Zadie Smith’s latest oscillates between two central narratives: the narrator’s reminiscences about taking dance lessons with her childhood friend Tracey, and her later professional and personal relationship with a do-gooding pop singer. As a child, the (unnamed) narrator is always second best to Tracey, whose physical skill and presence is captivating. She can’t find her own image in the old dance films she is entranced with, and even as an adult she finds herself somehow overshadowed by both the woman she works for and the underrepresented people she is determined to help.  This is, therefore, a sweeping tale of identity. Both racial identity (she is of mixed descent) and otherwise—it begs the question, how do we find ourselves when there is no map to begin with? 

— From Margaret's Picks


A New York Times bestseller * Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction * Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize

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.

About the Author

Zadie Smith is the author of the novels White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, and NW, as well as a collection of essays, Changing My Mind. Swing Time is her fifth novel. Her new collection of essays, Feel Free, is on sale 2/6/2018.

Coverage from NPR

Product Details
ISBN: 9781594203985
ISBN-10: 1594203989
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publication Date: November 15th, 2016
Pages: 464
Language: English