White Teeth by Zadie Smith
"White Teeth" is a novel that explores the complexity of human relationships and the search for identity in a multicultural society. The story revolves around the lives of two families, the Joneses and the Iqbals, who are brought together by a chance encounter between their patriarchs, Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal, during World War II.
The novel is divided into four parts, each of which covers a different period in the lives of the characters. The first part, "The Peculiar Second Marriage of Archie Jones," introduces the reader to Archie, a working-class man who attempts to commit suicide on New Year's Day in 1975. Through a series of flashbacks, the reader learns about Archie's failed marriage to his first wife, Clara, who leaves him for a black man named Ryan Topps. Archie later marries a Jamaican woman named Clara Bowden, who gives birth to their daughter, Irie.
The second part, "Samad Iqbal's Children," introduces the reader to Samad Iqbal, a Bengali Muslim who immigrates to England with his wife, Alsana, in the 1950s. Samad struggles to reconcile his traditional Muslim beliefs with his desire to assimilate into British culture. He has twin sons, Magid and Millat, who are polar opposites in terms of personality and outlook on life.
The third part, "The Temptation of Samad Iqbal," focuses on the lives of the children as they enter young adulthood. Magid is sent to Bangladesh by his parents to receive a traditional Muslim education, while Millat becomes involved with a radical Muslim group. The two brothers become estranged from each other and their family, and their actions have far-reaching consequences.
The final part, "The Return of Magid Iqbal," brings the story full circle as the characters confront the consequences of their actions. Magid returns to England as a successful scientist and attempts to bridge the gap between his family and his past. The novel ends with the characters reflecting on their experiences and the meaning of their lives.
Throughout the novel, Smith explores themes of race, identity, religion, and the search for meaning in a changing world. The characters grapple with questions of belonging and the tension between tradition and modernity. The novel is a powerful commentary on the complexities of multiculturalism and the challenges of living in a diverse society.
Overall, "White Teeth" is a thought-provoking and engaging novel that offers a window into the lives of a diverse group of characters as they navigate the complexities of modern life. Smith's writing is both insightful and humorous, and her characters are vividly drawn and relatable. The novel is a must-read for anyone interested in exploring the complexities of human relationships in a multicultural society.