Books: The Autograph Man

Blurb

In her second novel, <I>The Autograph Man</I>, Zadie Smith has set herself the unenviable task of following up a certain segment of recent literary history. Her first novel, the bestselling, award-laden and much-hyped <I>White Teeth</I> wore its ambitions lightly: an exuberant comic foray into the lives of three disparate families living in suburban north London, it dealt simultaneously—and deftly—with wider multicultural and political motifs. <p> <I>The Autograph Man</I> has a similar ebullience and an equally dazzling panoply of characters. Its hero Alex Li-Tandem is “one of this generation who watch themselves”, a Chinese-Jewish north Londoner who is first introduced as a child accompanying his father to a wrestling match between those two larger-than-life scions of 1970s Saturday afternoon television—Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks. When Alex’s father dies in the pandemonium surrounding the pursuit of Big Daddy’s autograph, the twin themes of the novel are launched—one is the bereaved Alex’s search for a replacement to fill the gulf, the other his obsession with tracking down, buying and selling autographs. Alex seeks one autograph in particular and seemingly in vain—that of Kitty Alexander, a fading film star. The route he follows in his search has much to say about the nature of celebrity and the privacy of souls, of fantasy and reality—all narrated in Smith’s breathless prose. <p> <I>The Autograph Man</I> plays on many strands and clever observations—in particular Jewishness, goyishness and Zen Buddhism. Smith is a superbly assured writer whose images stick in the mind; for example, Alex’s girlfriend Esther has “hair plaited like a puzzle”. The dialogue is vivid and there is much humour but at times the convoluted plot threatens to spill over into anarchy and the humour can be self-conscious. Though this does not diminish the entertainment value of <I>The Autograph Man</I>, it does—frustratingly—make it appear insincere. —<I>Catherine Taylor</I>

Recent Activity

Summary

Classification
Fiction
Review Points
Help-d956b624e3a70f299ff60fb4f6e79359
0
Popularity
Help-d956b624e3a70f299ff60fb4f6e79359
10
ISBN 13
Not present
Add ISBN
Format
Other
Rating
Help-d956b624e3a70f299ff60fb4f6e79359

Readers