White Teeth

by Zadie Smith

Our children will be born of our actions. Our accidents will become their destinies. Oh, the actions will remain. It is a simply matter of what you will do when the chips are down, my friend. When the fat lady is singing. When the walls are falling in, and the sky is dark, and the ground is rumbling. In that moment, our actions will define us. And it makes no difference whether you are being watched by Allah, Jesus, Buddha, or whether you are not. On cold days a man can see his breath, on a hot day, he can’t. On both occasions, the man breathes.


They promise us independence in exchange for the men we were. But it is a devilish deal.


You are never stronger, thought Samad as he approached the doctor, than when you land on the other side of despair.


Why think the more reasons there were to sin, the smaller the sin was?

I love this one. One line to make you think.

Because immigrants have always been particularly prone to repetition – it’s something to do with that experience of moving from West to East or East to West or from island to island. Even when you arrive, you’re still going back and forth; your children are going round and round.

As an Indian, living in Sri Lanka, I totally fell for the imagery in this paragraph. The back and forth defines our lives. Ever since we moved here, we mark years based on which months we went to India, and which months we stayed in Sri Lanka. As for the children going round and round, I don't know yet if that is happening with my child, she seems to have found two homes - happy to be in both, which I am glad for.

If religion is the opiate of the people, tradition is an even more sinister analgesic, simply because it rarely appears sinister. If religion is a tight band, a throbbing vein, and a needle, tradition is a far homelier concoction: poppy seeds ground into tea; a sweet cocoa drink laced with cocaine; the kind of thing your grandmother might have made.

I loathe tradition. Or to be precise, I loathe unreasonable actions that are made to continue on generation after generation in the name of tradition. How it irks me and raises my hackles.

In conclusion:

I liked this book. Certain quotes stuck out for me, and helped me relate to it very well. I haven’t managed to read another Zadie Smith book since, but a lot of her books are on my reading list because I do enjoy her writing style.

Started – June 2015.

Finished – July 2015.

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