My first encounter with Zadie Smith was through White Teeth, many years ago, a book I couldn't resist to not finish in one single night. I was at the time writing my PhD in inter-ethnic relations and identities and everything about the book was inspiring my own musings about identity, besides a great story telling charm of the author herself. Other writings by her were not always equally gifted with the same attractive stories, but there was always something in the writing which made me keep coming back and finishing the book.
In the case of Swing Time, a novel mostly about women identity and race, the writing is prolific, is made up of so many little well said stories, although the big story doesn't always look so good or just the main narrative doesn't matter that much. Which in my case worked against finishing this book for quiet a long time. Sometimes I was feeling that the story is getting lost in the many micro-stories told every couple of pages, and although there are some clear borders and main ideas around which the main narrative is created, the fragmentation still remains predominant. Because you can feel and like the stories, you can keep reading and this is the biggest difference between a good written book and a clumsy one. When the writing is good, a dedicated reader might just ignore the details of the construction and keep going on because there is always something to keep you focused.
When you are writing about identity, there is always a risk that the benchmarks and ideas are imposed to the reader, instead of just trusting the power of the words for creating the desired intellectual effects. More than once, unfortunately, I've felt that the author wanted to let you know her intentions assigned to the characters, and this is just annnoying for the inner pace of the story.
Despite some noticeable flows, I actually loved the swings and switches of Swing Time, with more than one idea keeping me a good literary company for the next days. Of course I would keep reading Zadie Smith too, because I just can't give up good writing and authors.
Rating: 3.5 stars
Disclaimer: Book offered by the publisher in exchange for an honest review