Sommario Culture 2003



1 White Teeth, London, Hamish Hamilton, 2000; New York, Random House, 2002. The Autograph Man, London, Hamish Hamilton, 2002; New York, Random House, 2002. Both books are here quoted from the paperback Penguin edition, London, 2001 and 2003, respectively, and will be abbreviated to their initials in subsequent references. Smith's novels have been published in Italian by Mondadori, with the titles of Denti bianchi (2000) and L'uomo autografo (2003).


2 While White Teeth has proven an incredibly successful novel and has collected several literary prizes - including the 2000 Whitbread First Novel Award, the Guardian First Book Award and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction -, The Autograph Man has elicited a much less unanimous critical response. However, critics generally recognise that, in spite of the book's faults, Smith has already developed a narrative voice of her own, and a very seductive one. See, for example, Covacich (2003: 35).


3 Black British culture emerges from a number of complex historical and anthropological phenomena which have shaped Britain as a multi-racial nation. As Donnell (2002: 11) well summarises, "In a nation state that has experienced the collapse of Empire, large-scale immigration from its former colonies, the mass women's movement, black power and nationalist movements, institutionalised racism, Thatcherism, multiculturalism, globalisation, and a supposed 'flood' of refugees and asylum seekers, questions of identity, politics and cultural values have undergone enormous, if not radical, change".

4 Head (2003: 106): "Smith now has an Asian look. And this demonstrates an indeterminate ethnicity. For a book that purports to speak authoritatively to a wide range of ethnic experience - including Caribbean British and Asian British experience - the ability to adopt different guises suggests a substantive hybridized identity that goes beyond the more cynical marketing objectives".

5 Very useful information of the publishing atmosphere in which WT saw the light is provided by the reader written by Claire Squires (2002).


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