The World of Graduate Studies

Today, in the world of Contemporary Black British Literature, I completed my presentation on Diran Adebayo’s Some Kind of Black. I was up until two this morning, tweaking my outline, re-reading portions of the book, and re-reading the research. Let it be noted that this presentation was a success and all the points that I thought might be disputed instead received smiles and head nods. I guess I do know what I’m talking about most times, huh?

So just when I start plotting out my research, reading, and paper writing schedule, our professor tells us that he wants us to double-up on the reading this week. Not only do I have to read White Teeth and The Scholar, but now I also have to do another presentation on White Teeth! That’s a thick book! Even the research that I’ve found is thick! Welcome to grad school, right? I still have to do this bibliographic research on Butler and write about why I made certain transcription/editing choices in this funky Susan B. Anthony letter. *grumble-grumble*

On a positive note, I’ve been wanting to read White Teeth for sometime now. From the articles that I’ve read on Smith, she has quite a few interesting opinions about things. I don’t have time to generate a listing of these little ha-has, but let’s just say she keeps it real.

Cultures don’t clash in Zadie Smith’s books. They arm wrestle, get in one another’s faces and climb into one another’s beds. Smith’s precocious debut novel, White Teeth, published in 2000, just three years after she graduated from Cambridge, centers on two World War II buddies—a white working-class Brit married to a Jamaican Jehovah’s Witness and a Muslim immigrant from Bangladesh who imports what he thinks will be a traditional wife from the old country. But it’s also the story of their children, who grow up, as Smith did, in a post-postcolonial London where the old gentlemen’s agreements about class and race are being shredded. The book earned lavish critical praise, was turned into a TV mini-series and established a model for how to make sense—and art—out of the complexity, diversity and pluck that have defined the beginning of this century.

Smith, 30, likes to work big. Her narratives sprawl with Dickensian swagger. Her cultural references leap the high-low divide from John Milton to Eminem. Plus she’s funny. Refugees from the era of political correctness and others who are easily offended probably should stay clear. Last year Smith published On Beauty, a novel set in the hothouse of American academia and scheduled to be made into a movie produced by Scott Rudin, who has adapted such provocative works as The Hours and Closer for the screen. Like White TeethThe Autograph Man it is simultaneously intellectual and visceral, a panoramic view of the way we live now and her second novel, The Autograph Man it is simultaneously intellectual and visceral, a panoramic view of the way we live now. (Time 2006)

Now, if you all are so willing to read an excerpt from The Orgasmic Diet, why not read one from White Teeth? Happy reading, ya’ll…especially since that’s all I’ll be doing for the next few days. So I guess the keyword there is happy.

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7 thoughts on “The World of Graduate Studies

  1. Ahhh I remember those days! I was so thankful I was going full time or I wouldn’t have made it! I have had White Teeth on the shelf for ages now. I hear it’s a hard read but a rewarding one. I look forward to your thoughts.

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  2. Seeee…why you gotta say it’s a hard read and stuff? Not that it would make a difference, I still have to read it. And yeah, I heard her other two books weren’t that great.

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