And they drank Prosecco…a brief review of ‘NW’ by Zadie Smith.

“When Adam delved and Eve span,

Who was then the gentleman?”

John Ball.


The novel had a famous quote at the start and this one whetted the appetite of the reader. Egalitarian philosophy seemed to be on the cards. And it was hard not to let the reputation of the author of ‘White Teeth’ and ‘On Beauty’ heighten the anticipation further. Having read these interesting and vibrant novels, the reviewer was in a positive mood at the outset of the reading experience.

‘NW’ read beautifully. It featured a vast array of literary devices. Sometimes they almost distracted from the development of the characters and the illuminating portrayal of London life. However, they generally worked effectively and they demonstrated that the writer has made substantial progress from some of her earlier works. 

The novel used detail efficiently to convey atmosphere; Smith clearly did her research well. And the details also captured the way diverse people have been responding to the pressures of contemporary urban existence. ‘NW’ left the reader unsure whether the human condition is a comedy or a tragedy. However, the tendency of the characters to consume Prosecco underlined the absurdity of everything. This reviewer will be really pleased to read another novel by this skilled artist, and is fairly confident that one day she will produce a masterpiece.   


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