In the last two decades, what this novel describes as the 'great ocean-crossing experiment' has added a whopping dose of fertiliser to British literature, enabling it to flower as never before. And now, with Smith's impressive debut, there are signs of fresh growth.
Smith's disillusioned men, frustrated women and torn teenagers are 'midnight's grandchildren', for whom cultural meltdown, segregation and reinvention are recurring themes. Her narrative charts the tragi-comic progress of Samad Iqbal and Archie Jones from World War II to 1990s London.
It's here, amid the caffs and tikka restaurants of Willesden that both men settle and found families - Archie with the Afro-Carribean Clara, and Samad with Alsana, from his native Bengal. And it is here that their assorted offspring do battle with the expectations and hypocrisies of their elders and the seductive lure of fundamentalism.
Smith's habit of switching protagonists almost in mid-stream gives the book a directionless feel, but what the novel lacks in narrative drive it makes up for in humour, verve and stylistic playfulness. And while Smith's intelligent, feisty prose style bears more than a passing resemblance to Salman Rushdie's, the territory she lays claim to is her own. Kirkus UK
|Details||Paperback: 560 pages
Publisher: Penguin; (25 Jan 2001)
Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 4 cm
|Related SKUs||9780141188416, 9780241142967, 9780571245871, 9780141019451, 9780719568978, 9780860685241, 9780141041773|