The Penguin Podcast

Zadie Smith on Swing Time

'I thought it would be interesting to have a narrator who wasn't trying to present anything to anyone, who was just like an open eye, and it's everybody else you see but you don't really see her very clearly'

Zadie Smith joins David Baddiel in the Penguin studio to talk about her latest novel, Swing Time.

Zadie brings along objects including a carved wooden head, a sequinned glove and a book on Fred Astaire as she talks dancing, motherhood and the importance of knowing your roots.

Zadie Smith and presenter David Baddiel

Zadie Smith and presenter David Baddiel

Get the audiobook

Swing Time

Zadie Smith (and others)

Penguin presents the unabridged, downloadable, audiobook edition of Swing Time by Zadie Smtih, read by Pippa Bennett Warner.

An ambitious, exuberant new novel moving from north west London to West Africa, from the multi-award-winning author of White Teeth and On Beauty

Two brown girls dream of being dancers - but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It's a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either...

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 an exuberant dance to the music of time.

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

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