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Extended Audio Sample NW: A Novel, by Zadie Smith Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.0003597769383 out of 53.0003597769383 out of 53.0003597769383 out of 53.0003597769383 out of 53.0003597769383 out of 5 3.00 (5,559 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Zadie Smith Narrator: Karen Bryson, Don Gilet Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Somewhere in Northwest London stands Caldwell housing estate, relic of ’70s urban planning. There are five identical blocks, deliberately named: Hobbes, Smith, Bentham, Locke, and Russell. If you grew up here, the plan was to get out and get on to something bigger, better. Thirty years later, ex-Caldwell kids Leah, Natalie, Felix, and Nathan have all made it out, with varying degrees of success—whatever that means. Living only streets apart, they occupy separate worlds and navigate an atomized city where few wish to be their neighbor’s keeper. Then one April afternoon a stranger comes to Leah’s door seeking help, disturbing the peace, and forcing Leah out of her isolation.

From private houses to public parks, at work and at play, in this delicate, devastating novel of encounters, the main streets hide the back alleys, and taking the high road can sometimes lead to a dead end. Zadie Smith’s NW brilliantly depicts the modern urban zone—familiar to city dwellers everywhere—in a tragicomic novel as mercurial as the city itself.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Innovative and moving... This is a rich novel, as crammed with voices and layered with history and pop culture as is London itself. Smith’s flair for dialogue reaches a new height in NW, as she conveys the rhythms and diction of a variety of Londoners with wit and acuity. The story of what happens inside a person when she rises above the situation she was born into was of interest to Charles Dickens and Jane Austen, among countless other novelists. Zadie Smith has delivered her contribution to this literary tradition with aplomb. Dallas Morning News
  • Smith has never been a writer who travels directly from A to B... Smith is not interested in exploring the unbroken line of cause and effect. What NW does offer, in abundance, is the sense of being plunged with great immediacy into the lives of these characters and their neighborhood. How wonderful to have a new version of London to explore. Boston Globe
  • If our everyday world suddenly turns dark, zany and lyrically weird one day, it's probably because Zadie Smith has learned how to control us all. In NW, Ms. Smith takes her courageous forays into the vernacular to new heights, using perspectives that are perhaps more native to her but in a form that feels brand new. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
  • Zadie Smith is not merely one of Britain's finest younger writers, but also one of the English-speaking world's best chroniclers of race, class, and identity in urban confines. Smith remains fearless, and there are moments that astonish. Her ambition and talent continue to awe. Philadelphia Inquirer
  • [NW is] a real sign of how Smith has developed and grown. It is a terrific novel: deeply ambitious, an attempt to use literature as a kind of excavation, while at the same time remaining intensely readable, intensely human, a portrait of the way we live. Los Angeles Times
  • A marvelously accomplished work, perhaps her most polished yet. Laura Miller, Salon
  • A triumph... As Smith threads together her characters' inner and outer worlds, every sentence sings. The Guardian
  • Smith's fiction has never been this deadly, direct, or economical... Where gifts are concerned, Smith is generous with hers; she writes, one feels, with our pleasure in mind... NW is Zadie Smith’s riskiest, meanest, most political and deeply felt book--but it all feels so effortless. She dazzles. Parul Sehgal, Bookforum
  • NW offers a nuanced, disturbing exploration of the boundaries, some porous, some impenetrable, between people living cheek by jowl in urban centers where the widening gap between haves and have-nots has created chasms into which we're all in danger of falling. NPR.org
  • A powerful portrait of class and identity in multicultural London. Entertainment Weekly
  • One of the most interesting portrayals of 30- something womanhood that I've come across in a long time. For other readers, Smith's brilliant eye and idiosyncratic ear should be ample enticement. Bloomberg News
  • A master class in freestyle fiction writing. Smith mashes up voices and vignettes, poetry and instant messaging, bedroom preferences and murder, and keeps it all from collapsing into incoherent mush with deft, dry wit. Smith defines characters worth reading. Newsday
  • In NW, Smith offers a robust novel bursting with life: a timely exploration of money, morals, class and authenticity that asks if we are ever truly the sole authors of our own fate. BookPage
  • A New York Times and Washington Post Notable Book of 2012
  • “Tentative and touching in its conclusions…NW represents a deliberate undoing; an unpacking of Smith’s abundant narrative gifts to find a deeper truth, audacious and painful as that truth may be. The result is that rare thing, a book that is radical and passionate and real.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • This is a book in which you never know how things will come together or what will happen next... NW represents a deliberate undoing; an unpacking of Smith’s abundant narrative gifts to find a deeper truth, audacious and painful as that truth may be. The result is that rare thing, a book that is radical and passionate and real. Anne Enright, The New York Times Book Review
  • A boldly Joycean appropriation, fortunately not so difficult of entry as its great model... Like Zadie Smith’s much-acclaimed predecessor White Teeth (2000), NW is an urban epic. Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books
  • Endlessly fascinating... remarkable. ...The impression of Smith's casual brilliance is what constantly surprises, the way she tosses off insights about parenting and work that you've felt in some nebulous way but never been able to articulate. Ron Charles, The Washington Post
  • A 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
  • One of The New York Times Book Review's 10 Best Books of 2012
  • One of TIME's Top 10 Fiction Books of 2012
  • One of The Wall Street Journal's Best 10 Fiction Books of 2012
  • “[An] ultimately powerful portrait of class and identity in multicultural London.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “[NW] is exuberant, lush with language, concerned with the relationship of people to their city…It is a terrific novel: deeply ambitious, an attempt to use literature as a kind of excavation, while at the same time remaining intensely readable, intensely human, a portrait of the way we live.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Endlessly fascinating…The impression of Smith’s casual brilliance is what constantly surprises, the way she tosses off insights and work that you’ve felt in some nebulous way but never been able to articulate…An extraordinary vision of our age.”

    Washington Post

  • “Excellent and captivating…Smith’s masterful ability to suspend all these bits and parts in the amber which is London refracts light, history, and the humane beauty of seeing everything at once.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “[Bryson] tells the women’s stories masterfully and switches accents and voices effortlessly, which is essential due to the diversity of the setting. Don Gilet narrates from the point of view of Felix…and does an equally good job bringing NW to life. As the characters struggle with issues of poverty, race, and identity in a bustling city, Bryson and Gilet expertly interpret the story and help listeners who are unfamiliar with the city empathize with the plights of those within it.”

    AudioFile

  • “With exceptional discernment, wit, empathy, and artistry, Smith…calibrates the gravitational forces of need and desire, brutality and succor, randomness and design, dissonance and harmony, and illuminates both heartbreaking and affirming truths about the paradoxes of human complexity.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • A Los Angeles Times Bestseller
  • A 2012 Washington Post Notable Book for Fiction
  • A 2012 Time Magazine Top 10 Book for Fiction
  • A Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Book, September 2012
  • A 2012 Amazon Top 100 Book
  • A 2012 BookPage Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2012 New York Times Book Review Top 10 Book of the Year
  • A 2012 eMusic Best Audiobook of the Year
  • A 2013 Women's Prize for Fiction Finalist
  • A 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist
  • A 2012 New York Times Book Review Notable Book

Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 by Meera | 2/17/2014

    " I'm usually willing to give Zadie the benefit of the doubt, but I really struggled with this and the style in which it was written -it was somewhat of a stream of consciousness and very self aware, which put me off. The novel details the lives of 4 inhabitants of a corner of North West London, Leah, Felix, Natalie and Nathan, but detail is only given to the stories of the girls, who are both deceitful and self-obsessed characters, so are hard to empathise with, especially Natalie, who on paper seems to have a good life, but is always questioning it and trying to sabotage the good in her life. I think that the stories of the boys may have been more interesting, but unfortunately, they were only given about 20 pages each, which wasn't enough for sufficient character development. Overall, pretentious, and I don't think it gives a rounded view of inhabitants of this part of London. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Rachel | 1/28/2014

    " Wow. Enjoyable read, learned a bit about London now, and Smith's facility with language and the way she used it in service of the plot was just amazing. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Sirin | 1/28/2014

    " This one is not as good as her previous books. Somehow it got better for me half way through, with the stye change to Natalie's perspective. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Angela | 1/24/2014

    " Love the way Ms Smith spoke about each character, and all of them I could relate in some way, either as myself, my sister or my brother or some many of my family. Zadie Smith is an amazing writer! "

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