Amy P. Knight

Swing Time by Zadie Smith

It’s always enjoyable to read a book that’s pretty easy to follow but also includes some really serious thought. This one is full of small scenes that feel true and familiar of friendship between little girls, but it also navigates time deftly, covering 33 years or so and zooming in just where she needs to. She creates the childhood and then recalls it later in life in ways that feel absolutely authentic.

There were moments where it veered toward the didactic–when dealing with Aimee the pop star’s attempted naive charitable work in Africa–but for the most part it stayed on the right side of the line. And it wasn’t superfluous. Thematically the novel was about female friendship but also about blackness. Not American blackness, or even British–in a sense that is human, not fundamentally political.