I read this book for 'commercial' reasons above all else. It's considered as commercial literary fiction gold by publishers and as I'm an aspiring publisher I thought I'd find out what all the fuss was about. I thought the first half or so was........good. I liked the characters Samad and Archie and the movement back and forward from the past to the present. The children elicited concern and I was intrigued what was going to happen. However I would say the final third of the book was disappointing and I begun to get bored and slightly frustrated. It's definitely the first few hundred pages that have remained out of this one.
There are some highly perceptive essays in this collection by Zadie Smith ranging from literary criticism, most notably on Kafka and Nabakov, analysis of different approaches to novel writing and to ways in which our speech differs depending on who we are talking to, a fascinating blunt assessment of the failed state of Liberia and touching recollections of her father and her childhood in Willesden Green. Highly recommended.