Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and true identity, how they shape us and how we can survive them. Moving from Northwest London to West Africa, it is an exuberant dance to the music of time.
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 20s, never to be revisited but never quite forgotten, either....
©2016 Zadie Smith (P)2016 Penguin Books Ltd.
Loved the story, the subtlety of the characterisations and thoughtful insights into race celebrity, power of money. I think this is Zadie Smith's best book.
Living in rural tranquility in France. I read everything except readers' l o n g reviews of books.
Loved this book and my only criticism was regarding the narration. Beautifully read with some good voices but not convinced that the style matched the storyteller
I am a huge fan of Zadie Smith; White Teeth and On Beauty have pride of place on my book shelf. I was personally disappointed with NW - I couldn't get into the writing style - but was thrilled to discover a clearer, fascinating narrative in Swing Time.
It wasn't the most engaging novel I've ever read or listened to, and found the protagonist rather unlikable. However, Pippa Bennet-Warner's narration was breathtaking! She has an incredible, silky voice, and she nailed all the accents, especially the mother's Jamaican lilt. I can't wait for her to read more audiobooks!
The narrator is amazing. Great story. Zadie Smith excellent as always, creating a vivid depiction of London and all the wonderful multiplicities and complexities of human personality and behaviour. Would definitely recommend to all.
I really struggle to understand what people like about this book. The story is not that special and it goes back and forth in timw without any logic or order. It also feels like the author wanted to say 4 different stories ans could pick which one to go for. Not a fan
I think that, in my own particular case, this is an irrelevant question. Audible suits for commuting and print versions for when I devote my full attention to the book.
The unnamed narrator's mother was my favourite character. I could sympathise with the idea put across in describing her that time spent not learning was wasted time - even if this means time spent with family and friends.
This was the first of Pippa Benne-Warner's narrations I've heard but I was very impressed. She seemed effortlessly to be able to supply many contrasting accents: English - of varied age, class, colour, gender; American, Brazilian, Australian, West African.
Neither laughing nor crying resulted - perhaps that's being a man, or simply listening while commuting. However, I was engaged with the characters and with the many difficulties and ambitions in their lives. I experienced a life-affirming sense of life being described as it is and not as one would like it. This was especially put across in describing the difference between a feasibility study as opposed to engaging with life once in the imagined country with all the real life people, customs, weather, light, foods, smells etc.
This was the first Zadie Smith book I'd 'read' and will explore further. I saw a TV adaptation of White Teeth a few years ago and will look out the book. I will also look out for Pippa Bennet-Warner's name.
The reason I entitled this review Parallel Lives is that we explore simultaneously in this book two versions of the narrator: the up-to-date version in alternate chapters, and the younger selves which slowly grew into this character. Somehow, this seemed much more revealing that a traditional timeline approach.
I enjoyed listening to Zadie's wonderful storytelling, not the best of her novels though. Audiobook had great narration, but I was not compelled to listen, can't quite put my finger on why-I didn't feel much empathy with the characters or recognise the world they inhabited, but even that didn't stop me from finishing the book.
The narrator is very clear , animated and brings the characters to life. I think I would have bored of reading this but have enjoyed listening to it . I preferred this book to the authors other title NW. I would definitely recommend this title.
Obsessed with psychological thrillers, crime, mystery and dystopian fictions. A good drama now and again. A harsh critic at times.
This is probably my favourite Zadie Smith novel, deeply touching with characters bursting to life out of the pages. Hitting on themes of racial identity and pop culture, it is a brilliant contemporary take on what young adults are currently experiencing. From cultural appropriation to the effects of globalisation all summed up in the relationship of one young woman and her peers.
Her relationship with her mother is one of generational divide while with her friend Tracy is one of class divide. The protagonist's character is the epitome of confusion and attempting to find a place in the world.
The reader is fantastic able to switch to several accents at a time keeping the dialogue lively. Well worth all the praise.
"A good story, shame about the narrator"
Zadie Smith has not disappointed. I wouldn't have imagined following a main character (the narrator) that seems so clueless about the world around her, be it her family, her boss, the African village where she spends weeks, or her erstwhile bff Tracey, but Smith manages to get us to tag along. And at the end of the story, she does seem to connect with reality at last!
What really spoiled my enjoyment was the reader, with her soporific tone. But that wasn't the worst. I just wish she'd refrained from doing accents, they just sounded so off and daft.
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