Swing Time by Zadie Smith
I love absolutely everything about Sarah’s grid. She regularly celebrates peak and pit moments — the good and the bad, always keeping it completely real. Her photos are beautiful but on top of that, she has a truly beautiful way with words — and a gorgeous set of twins to boot. I couldn’t wait to ask her for a book recommendation as I knew it would be a good one — and I was right. Now, over to Sarah for a stunner.
‘Probably best known for White Teeth (Zadie Smith’s debut was an immediate best-seller), I hadn’t heard of her dazzling novel Swing Time ‘til I was – literally – dazzled by the sunshine yellow and art deco font in a charity shop (whoever said you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, eh?). Then the prologue opened and I was hooked. Smith has the ability to create such believable, rounded inner voices – filled with the clashes, assumptions and contradictions that we recognise in ourselves. And the colourful cover is the perfect indication of what lies within: a story that turns, tap dances and twists across from London to West Africa (an unnamed country) to New York and back around again. Constantly shifting locations as our protagonist (unnamed herself), explores her identity and purpose.
This is a novel about many things, but its exploration of the ferocity of female friendship – spanning two girls’ lives from a girlhood anchored around their shared Saturday morning ballet class, to spinning to and from each other in womanhood – lies at the centre. I relished in Smith’s scrutiny of our relationships as women: with our mothers, our best friends, our employers, our lovers…and, of course, ourselves.
Following the friendship of the nameless narrator and her best friend Tracey, both brown girls from north London, Smith paints a vivid picture of what it feels like to grow up as the child of one black parent and one white – the concept of ‘belonging’. The search for which dance best fits you. Which rhythm. Which song.
I haven’t read White Teeth for a decade (or two! ) but falling so deeply in love with Zadie Smith’s style of writing in Swing Time has made me want to dive into her whole catalogue.
Let me know if you read it – or have read it! Order your copy here.