Swing Time

Swing Time

Fiction & Poetry, Modern & Contemporary Fiction
Hardback Published on: 15/11/2016
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Bookseller Reviews

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Swing Time
Contains dance and drama
The story involves a narrator who never gives her name and her childhood friend Tracy – two mixed-race girls who want to be dancers. Only Tracy, however, h... READ MORE
Jane E Skudder
Swing Time
Who are "our people"? An exploration of racial and social identity
This is a typical Zadie Smith book in exploring racial identity social mobility and personal identity. In it, the unnamed narrator lies in her father's ho... READ MORE
Tracey McHardy


The rest of it, all the detail, fell away… The story was the price you paid for the rhythm.

On an unremarkable Saturday in 1982, two girls meet. Two brown girls who both dream of being dancers - but only one, Tracey, has talent; a talent so undeniable she is taught to rely on it as a promise, as a way out. The other is taught she has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. She is taught her future is her own to decide.

Theirs a close but complicated childhood friendship that halts abruptly in their early twenties as their two paths diverge and their lives dance out of each other's view, but never out of their shadow.

Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them. Moving from north-west London to West Africa, it is a story about the turn and dip and sway of lives in endless, perpetual motion; an exuberant dance to the music of time.

Praise for Swing Time:

Swing Time is Zadie Smith’s fifth novel and for my money her finest… the novel does what only literature can and what only great literature will: forces us to assess the very vocabulary with which we speak of human experience.’ Guardian

Praise for Zadie Smith:

'Smith is the most naturally gifted young novelist around - with a fastidious ear for dialogue and a lethally quiet comic touch. Above all, she can move us' Times Literary Supplement

'[Smith] packs more intelligence, humour and sheer energy into any given scene than anyone else of her generation' Sunday Telegraph

'Her dialogue sings and soars; terse, packed and sassy. Smith is simply wonderful: Dickens's legitimate daughter' Independent on NW

'Captivating. Funny, sexy, weird, full of acute social comedy. [Zadie Smith] is up there with the best around' Evening Standard on NW

'Intensely funny, richly varied, always unexpected. A joyous, optimistic, angry masterpiece. No better English novel will be published this year' Daily Telegraph on NW

'Exceptionally accomplished...Smith displays a remarkable talent for embracing all the possibilities of language, and time and again she produces images that shout out in their brilliance...An outstanding novelist' Observer on On Beauty

'Like Forster, Smith possesses a captivating authorial voice - at once authoritative and nonchalant, and capacious enough to accommodate high moral seriousness, laid-back humour and virtually everything in-between' New York Times on On Beauty

  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • ISBN: 9780241144152
  • Number of pages: 464
  • Weight: 746g
  • Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 40 mm

Customer Reviews

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Swing Time
A great time to read Swing Time!
A very enjoyable book with characters that you feel you could have met at some point they are so real! Having grown up the 70/80's London the setting is ve... READ MORE
Helen Dawson