Book Review: NW by Zadie Smith

Synopsis ( Source NYTIMES) ” Zadie Smith’s latest novel, NW introduce es four characters Leah, Felix, Keisha (renamed Natalie) and Nathan, all of whom grew up in the same improverished part of Northwest London the postal code for the area is the NW of the title, and Caldwell — the housing project where the characters were raised is the only fictional place on a very real map. The project consists of 5 tower blocks each named for a giant of English Phlosophy: Smith, Hobbes, Bentham, Locke, Russell. Given the grimness of the locale, the names only slightly less amusing than the titles of real tower blocks in Kilburn, which are named for Austen, Dickens, and, Fielding. There are times when the ironies of fiction cannot match those that reality provides…”My impressions:In our opening scene Leah is thrown headfirst into Shar’s emergencyShe claims to need money to go see her Mom in the emergency room. She lands on her doostep disheveled and in tears and very casual about revealing details of her brutal past.We, the readers, soon discover that all this was a ruse to get ( possibly ) drug money. My curiosity is peaked. Even though Michel, her husband, doesn’t think she is to bright for giving an absolute stranger money; He still confronts Shar about it when they later bump into her on the street.I’m getting drawn into what I perceive to be a novel version of my favorite British soap opera East Enders.Much to my dismay we are thrown into Leah and Natalie’s story( Not much about Shar after this) which doesn’t really get interesting for me until almost the end of the book. By page 67 I feel like I had been trying to walk through quicksand; the action has slowed considerably.I get that Natalie who is a lawyer represents the haves and Leah, who works for a nonprofit represents the have nots. Of course there is enough diversity in neighborhood to touch on racism, however unlike the beauty of “White Teeth” it felt forced.My biggest issue with the story I suppose is the way it was structured. By placing Felix’s story in the middle and then yanking us back to Natalie’s I’ve lost interest because I do not know what connection Felix had to their story. I felt like I had been blindfolded and thrown into a maze through about 2/3 rds of the book ; I’m left struggling to figure things out. I felt there may have been too many plot complications. I gave it 3 out of 5 stars


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