Plot Tanks as Characters Speak in Foreign Idioms

September 24, 2005 | ,

On Beauty
By Zadie Smith
Viking Canada. 400 pages. $34.

In September, 2002, Zadie Smith, the British novelist, went to Harvard. She was 27, and had published her first novel, White Teeth, not long after graduating from Cambridge to acclaim and huge sales on both sides of the Atlantic. A follow-up, The Autograph Man, appeared a month after she moved to Boston, where she was offered a fellowship at Harvard University to write a collection of essays, The Morality of the Novel. The book does not appear to have been published.

Smith’s third novel, On Beauty, describes a year in the life of the Belsey clan, who orbit a university called “Wellington,” which may not be Harvard but looks, smells and sounds a whole lot like the Ivy League school. (more…)