jamiebowen0306 (jamiebowen0306) wrote,

I finished "On Beauty" by Zadie Smith today.

On Beauty is about one family, the liberal atheistic Belseys (Howard, Kiki and their three biracial childrem Jerome, Zora and Levi), and their relationship with the more "religious right" Kipps family (Monty, Carlene and Victoria). Howard and Monty are lecturers who dislike each other, often being used as spokesmen for opposite side of an argument. Howard, despite being English, works in a university near Boston. Monty, a West Indian, gets a job there while the book develops, leading to some bickering between the two. Their disagreement isn't racial (Howard is white, but married to a black woman), it's just their belief systems are diametrically opposed to one another. The book focuses on Howard's dual relationships between Monty and Kiki (largely).

To be honest, I'm not sure what to think of this book. It's well written. I can see good writing when I read it, and this is good writing, it's just not much happens here. If this is about the "US Culture Wars", I can see what she was aiming for. It's just I think that could be told better as a factual book. Both Howard, and Monty feel like cardboard cut-outs of their sides of the argument. I don't know many atheists who ban Christmas for their kids, for example. If it's about something else, I can't see it. So if you want a well written fictional account of the US Culture Wars, read this book. If you want a well written family drama (with some humour involved), you'll like this book too. If you want something else maybe you won't like it so much.
Tags: book, book review, review

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