Zadie Smith's most invigorating novel yet! Each of the four sections is helmed by a different narrator, all of whom grew up in Caldwell, a council estate in a low-income area of London. They are now adults living within vastly different income brackets and enjoying different levels of professional and personal happiness. Along with a slew of fully fleshed peripheral characters, the main storylines of Leah, Natalie, Felix, and Nathan are told in distinct voices, at a breakneck pace and feature crisp and funny and/or tragic dialogue. This is not an easy read. The first section, Leah's, is especially fractured, making it at times difficult to differentiate what is real from what isn't. What remains very real throughout the novel is the complex and evolving friendship between Leah and Natalie, as they both struggle with their separate decisions about having/not having children. NW sometimes reads like a series of individual short stories, but together they create this spellbinding conversation about what factors determine where we end up even when we begin in the same place.
One of the New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of 2012
Set in northwest London, Zadie Smith’s brilliant tragicomic novel follows four locals—Leah, Natalie, Felix, and Nathan—as they try to make adult lives outside of Caldwell, the council estate of their childhood. In private houses and public parks, at work and at play, these Londoners inhabit a complicated place, as beautiful as it is brutal, where the thoroughfares hide the back alleys and taking the high road can sometimes lead you to a dead end. Depicting the modern urban zone—familiar to city-dwellers everywhere—NW is a quietly devastating novel of encounters, mercurial and vital, like the city itself.
About the Author
Zadie Smith was born in Northwest London in 1975 and still lives in the area. She is the author of White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, Changing My Mind, NW, Swing Time, Feel Free, and Grand Union.
A 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
One of The New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of 2012
One of TIME's Top 10 Fiction Books of 2012
One of The Wall Street Journal's Best 10 Fiction Books of 2012
A New York Times and Washington Post Notable Book of 2012
“A boldly Joycean appropriation, fortunately not so difficult of entry as its great model… Like Zadie Smith’s much-acclaimed predecessor White Teeth (2000), NW is an urban epic.”—Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books
“[NW] is that rare thing, a book that is radical and passionate and real.”—Anne Enright, The New York Times Book Review
"Endlessly fascinating... remarkable. ...The impression of Smith's casual brilliance is what constantly surprises, the way she tosses off insights about parenting and work that you've felt in some nebulous way but never been able to articulate."—Ron Charles, The Washington Post
"A marvelously accomplished work, perhaps her most polished yet."—Laura Miller, Salon
"A triumph... As Smith threads together her characters' inner and outer worlds, every sentence sings."—The Guardian
"Smith's fiction has never been this deadly, direct, or economical... Where gifts are concerned, Smith is generous with hers; she writes, one feels, with our pleasure in mind... NW is Zadie Smith’s riskiest, meanest, most political and deeply felt book--but it all feels so effortless. She dazzles."—Parul Sehgal, Bookforum
"NW offers a nuanced, disturbing exploration of the boundaries, some porous, some impenetrable, between people living cheek by jowl in urban centers where the widening gap between haves and have-nots has created chasms into which we're all in danger of falling."—NPR.org
"A powerful portrait of class and identity in multicultural London. "—Entertainment Weekly
"One of the most interesting portrayals of 30- something womanhood that I've come across in a long time. For other readers, Smith's brilliant eye and idiosyncratic ear should be ample enticement."—Bloomberg News
"A master class in freestyle fiction writing. Smith mashes up voices and vignettes, poetry and instant messaging, bedroom preferences and murder, and keeps it all from collapsing into incoherent mush with deft, dry wit. Smith defines characters worth reading."—Newsday
"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."—Publishers Weekly
"In NW, Smith offers a robust novel bursting with life: a timely exploration of money, morals, class and authenticity that asks if we are ever truly the sole authors of our own fate."—BookPage