Swing Time

swing time cover image Swing Time

by Zadie Smith
General Fiction
Penguin Press
Hardcover, 464 pages
$27.00

They meet in a ballet class, two little brown girls who look as if they could have been cut from “one piece of tan material.” One is an immensely talented dancer the other brilliant and ambitious, but flat-footed. They bond and grow together in a narrative reminiscent of Elena Ferrante. One stays on the straight and narrow and becomes worldly and “successful” and deeply engaged in West Africa. The other, wild and erratic, becomes a West End dancer. Though their direct relationship ends, the experience of growing up together informs the remainder of the story. Smith has previously written from the third person point-of-view, but here the story is told in the first-person voice of one of the girls. Not surprisingly, Smith weaves a narrative with threads of racism, sexism and class. The Los Angeles Times calls the book “a multilayered tour de force.”