NW: A Novel
From the publisher: "Set in northwest London, Zadie Smith's brilliant tragicomic novel follows four locals—Leah, Natalie, Felix, and Nathan—as they try to make adult lives outside of Caldwell, the council estate of their childhood. In private houses and public parks, at work and at play, these Londoners inhabit a complicated place, as beautiful as it is brutal, where the thoroughfares hide the back alleys and taking the high road can sometimes lead you to a dead end. Depicting the modern urban zone—familiar to city-dwellers everywhere—<em>NW</em> is a quietly devastating novel of encounters, mercurial and vital, like the city itself." <em>Booklist</em> says: "Smith draws on her deepening social and psychological acuity and her intimacy with North West London to portray a quartet of struggling men and women linked by blood, place, affinity, and chance."
Somewhere in Northwest London stands Caldwell housing estate, relic of 70s urban planning. Five identical blocks, deliberately named: Hobbes, Smith, Bentham, Locke, and Russell. If you grew up there, the plan was to get out and get on, to something bigger, better.
Thirty years later, ex-Caldwell kids Leah, Natalie, Felix, and Nathan have all made it out, with varying degrees of succes – whatever that means. Living only streets apart, they occupy separate worlds and navigate an atomized city where few wish to be their neighbor’s keeper. Then, one April afternoon, a stranger comes to Leah’s door seeking help, disturbing the peace, and forcing Leah out of her isolation….
From private houses to public parks, at work and at play, in this delicate, devastating novel of encounters, the main streets hide the back alleys, and taking the high road can sometimes lead to a dead end. Zadie Smith’s NW brilliantly depicts the modern urban zone – familiar to city dwellers everywhere – in a tragicomic novel as mercurial as the city itself.