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NW

Cover of NW

NW

A Novel

Zadie Smith exploded onto the literary scene with her critically acclaimed, New York Times best-selling debut White Teeth. Set in the northwest corner of London, NW is a tragi-comic poetic exploration of modern urban life told through the eyes of four residents: Leah, Natalie, Felix, and Nathan. After growing up and mostly escaping a 70s-era housing project, they now live separate lives mere streets apart. Their comfortable isolation is thrown into disorder, however, when a stranger arrives on Leah's doorstep asking for help.

Zadie Smith exploded onto the literary scene with her critically acclaimed, New York Times best-selling debut White Teeth. Set in the northwest corner of London, NW is a tragi-comic poetic exploration of modern urban life told through the eyes of four residents: Leah, Natalie, Felix, and Nathan. After growing up and mostly escaping a 70s-era housing project, they now live separate lives mere streets apart. Their comfortable isolation is thrown into disorder, however, when a stranger arrives on Leah's doorstep asking for help.

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  • Publisher's Weekly

    February 25, 2013
    In the hands of Smith, Northwest London—the postcode area that gives her fourth novel its title—is more than just a setting: told in shifting perspectives of its lifelong residents, NW becomes a character in its own right. Working class, downtrodden, with an undercurrent of hopelessness and violence, this borough of London is home to Leah, Felix, Natalie, and Nathan, Smith’s four focal characters, each one facing a conflict of identity. So many of the societal and class differences in NW are shown through nuances of voice, diction, and accent. And in this audio edition, narrators Don Gilet and Karen Bryson excel, capturing the subtleties of the many fluid dialectics in Northwest London spoken by immigrants and natives alike. The strong performances of and seamless interplay between Gilet and Bryson deftly capture the gritty day-to-day life of NW. A Penguin hardcover.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from September 10, 2012
    The reader first meets Leah Hanwell at her most vulnerable (some might say gullible): at home, when the doorbell rings and in tumbles a desperate, unknown but not unfamiliar woman, pleading for money, which Leah provides. Although this incident soon fades into an awkward anecdote shared later at awkward gatherings, it introduces the framework of Smith's (White Teeth) excellent and captivating new novel, in which the lines dividing neighbors from strangers are not always clear or permanent. The book takes place in NW London, where characters intersect and circumvent one another's lives and, in the process, expose their ethnic distinctions and class transformations, their relationships and their secrets. Leah's childhood best friend Natalie Blake (formerly Keisha Blake) eventually becomes the primary focus and the contrast between the two women allows for some of the book's most compelling insights, namely the inevitability of vs. the disinterest in becoming a mother, which Natalie has done and Leah decisively has not. The book's middle section introduces Felix Cooper, a friend of neither woman, but whose fate will affect them both. Smith's masterful ability to suspend all these bits and parts in the amber which is London refracts light, history, and the humane beauty of seeing everything at once. Agent: Georgia Garrett, Rogers, Coleridge and White.

  • AudioFile Magazine Zadie Smith is known for complex novels, and NW, which focuses on three characters who grew up in the Caldwell housing estate in Northwest London, is no exception. Voiced by Karen Bryson, Leah and Natalie have both become fairly successful--particularly Natalie--but have maintained varying degrees of connection to NW. Some listeners may be bothered by the occasional moist noises Bryson introduces into the dialogue, but she tells the women's stories masterfully and switches accents and voices effortlessly, which is essential due to the diversity of the setting. Don Gilet narrates from the point of view of Felix, who is still more in NW than out of it, and does an equally good job bringing NW to life. As the characters struggle with issues of poverty, race, and identity in a bustling city, Bryson and Gilet expertly interpret the story and help listeners who are unfamiliar with the city empathize with the plights of those within it. J.L.K. © AudioFile 2012, Portland, Maine
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NW
NW
A Novel
Zadie Smith
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