Swing Time is Zadie Smith's newest novel, and it delivers on a familiar premise of writing about the in-between worlds of "othered" people - here, people who are neither black nor white, neither rich nor poor, neither young nor old. It's the story of two girls, growing up in council housing, and how their hopes and dreams and fates intertwine. Moving fluidly through time, starting with their first interactions, skipping ahead through teenagerhood and the events that drive them apart, and then through the narrator's late twenties and early thirties working to help a pop start establish a school in West Africa, it almost feels like a series of loose vignettes that slowly reveal the overall story arc.
I really enjoyed Swing Time, for all that it took me quite a while to get through it. The story was interesting and detailed, and it took me a while to see how things would relate forwards and backwards in time, but eventually I understood and was fairly pleased with the result. The way the story is structured, there is no linear timeline but instead a loose grouping of events that can be hard to follow, and the end is quite literally the beginning. The character of the narrator, who sometimes makes reflections during flashbacks as though encountering new thoughts of her own past, is fluid in the earlier timeline and set in the "present day" narrative, and it's interesting to see her perspective of her own history. I thought it was quite a pleasant read, if a little long, and gave it four stars for the solid story, interesting views, and the characterization of the narrator.
This review was cross-posted to CannonballRead, a race to read and review 52 books in one year.
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