Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Zadie Smith about her mother, father and "White Teeth"
Best-selling British author Zadie Smith wasn't in the news because she wrote a new book, but because she claimed her childhood home was brimful of books – but most had been borrowed from a local library by her mother and not returned.
"I didn't steal books from library, says mother of Zadie Smith," wrote the Daily mail.
Her mother Yvonne Bailey-Smith, 56, agreed that her home had been full of books but insisted she bought most of them herself, spending up to £80 a time at local bookshops.
The story behind it was Zadie Smith's campaign to save a north-west London library opened by Mark Twain in 1900. Unfortunatly she lost the battle, the council voted in favour of closing half the libraries in the borough because of Goverment spending cuts.
I think it's the only photo on the net of Zadi Smith's Jamaican mother, and it's a shame it's linked to such a headline. Read the story at www.dailymail.co.uk
Zadi Smith's father
She lost her father 5 years ago. On the photo is Zadi Smith with her father Harvey. About the photo she wrote in NYT, " And this is me and my dad one Christmas past. I'm 5 and he's too old to have a 5-year-old." Her father was 55 by the way, and he divorced from her mother when she was 15.
But I don't believe she meant in a negative way. Because last year she wrote a very moving story about her father in The Sunday Times. To quote the headline, "Zadie Smith, her father and British comedy. A story about a mutual passion for the likes of Monty Python and the punchline she can’t escape — his death."
She wrote: "My father had few enthusiasms, but he loved comedy. ..
When Harvey was very ill, in the autumn of 2006, I went to visit him at a nursing home in the seaside town of Felixstowe, armed with the DVD boxed set of Fawlty Towers. By this point, he was long divorced from my mother, his second divorce, and was living alone on the grey East Anglian coast, far from his children.
A dialysis patient for a decade (he lost his first kidney to stones, the second to cancer), his body now began to give up. I had meant to leave the DVDs with him, something for the empty hours alone, but when I got there, with nothing to talk about, we ended up watching them together for the umpteenth time, he on the single chair, me on the floor, cramped in that grim little nursing-home bedroom ...
Needles to say Zadi Smith became world famous when she published her novel White Teeth in 2000. The Amazon review states the book is about race, sex, class, history, and the minefield of gender politics.
But in an interview, Smith says, "I wasn't trying to write about race. . . . Race is obviously a part of the book, but I didn't sit down to write a book about race. So is a book that doesn't have exclusively white people in the main theme must be one about race? I don't understand that."
But her book will always be analysed from racial point of view. One of the most striking examples is the book "Zadie Smith's White Teeth - Irie as an example for 2nd generation immigrants’ desperate search for their place in a multicultural society".
In the book the author analyses the biracial identity of Irie, the daughter of Clara (see video). She writes about about Irie's feeling of unrootedness as a consequence of lacking role models and her unawareness of her own family’s history. Read it here.
In 2002 the novel was dramatised by Channel 4. For those of you who have missed it, see all the episodes at www.youtube.com.