White Teeth

White Teeth: Assimilation and Identity in Postcolonial Europe College

Since even before its publication in 2000, Zadie Smith’s debut novel White Teeth has been surrounded by intense hype and media publicity. Smith’s status as a young black female writer who received a quarter million pounds advance on a first book no doubt fueled the frenzy and made her a popular talking point. Today, the majority of audiences and critics would agree that the book lived up to its hype. Translated into over 20 languages, praised by veteran writers and a poet laureate, and adapted into a popular television show, the novel was a major success and the sensational rumors now seem warranted. While Smith’s story perhaps was seen as a trendy news piece at first, its investigation of postcolonial European culture and society has made it a serious and important work that aims to make sense of an increasingly complicated, diverse modern world. Smith uses compelling immigrant characters like Bangladeshi Samad Iqbal and his twin sons to explore the difficulties of identity and assimilation in late 20th century Europe, illustrating the need for compromise and understanding in navigating multiculturalism today.

As is common for many writers, Zadie Smith took her own experiences into account as inspiration for her fiction. Smith...

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