1. Three connected people
Leah, Keisha/Natalie and Felix. Michel, Shar, Grace, Pauline, Lloyd, Devon, Rodney, Cheryl, Frank, Nathan.
2. North West London
Caldwell council estate. Garvey House. Tube. Church. School. Chambers. NW6. Hampstead Heath. Hornsey Lane.
Parts, voices, sections.
37. Losing identity
Keisha to Natalie. Changing identity. Losing identity. Changing voice.
– French-style speech identification
No speech identification
‘Traditional speech identification’
Visitation to Guest to Host to Visitation
I loved this book. I got completely lost in it almost from the second I started reading. I have never been a big fan of London, but this book made me feel London like I never had before. I was lucky enough to travel up to London for work when I was reading the book and it felt so right to be sat on the tube reading it. I looked for Leah and Keisha, for Natalie and Frank, for Felix and Lloyd and for Shar and Nathan on the tube and on the streets of London and I kind of found them. Maybe.
It’s a very readable book, despite (or because of, perhaps) all the cleverness with structure and with speech and with themes and with, almost certainly, a bunch of other things I didn’t pick up on. I loved the characters. I loved getting inside the heads of Leah and Keisha and of NW. It made me think and it made me feel and it made me keep turning the pages – to get all three into one book is actually very impressive. And I think it’s definitely one to read again – I have a feeling it’s a book that will show more and more depths on each reading. And I shall look forward to it – and try to coincide my next reading with a trip to London.
Disclosure: Penguin (the publisher) sent me a proof copy of NW by Zadie Smith, for the purposes of this review, but the review is my honest opinion.