Description: White Teeth is the story of two North London families—one headed by Archie, the other by Archie’s best friend, a Muslim Bengali named Samad Iqbal. Pals since they served together in World War II, Archie and Samad are a decidedly unlikely pair. Plodding Archie is typical in every way until he marries Clara, a beautiful, toothless Jamaican woman half his age, and the couple have a daughter named Irie (the Jamaican word for “no problem”). Samad —devoutly Muslim, hopelessly “foreign”— weds the feisty and always suspicious Alsana in a prearranged union. They have twin sons named Millat and Magid, one a pot-smoking punk-cum-militant Muslim and the other an insufferable science nerd. The riotous and tortured histories of the Joneses and the Iqbals are fundamentally intertwined, capturing an empire’s worth of cultural identity, history, and hope.
Why I selected this book: Last week I found a list of the Best BBC books from a poll outside the U.K. and decided to make it my challenge for the next few years. Additionally, Girlxoxo’s Monthly Motif theme this month is diversity. So I decided to read a selection from my BBC List that would fit the theme as I wanted to participate with Tanya and Kim. I was torn between this one and Monica Ali’s Brick Lane.
The book addresses racial issues that seem to create a divide between the English-born residents and immigrants from the Caribbean and India.
“These days, it feels to me like you make a devil’s pact when you walk into this country. You hand over your passport at the check-in, you get stamped, you want to make a little money, get yourself started… but you mean to go back! Who would want to stay? Cold, wet, miserable; terrible food, dreadful newspapers – who would want to stay? In a place where you are never welcomed, only tolerated. Just tolerated. Like you are an animal finally house-trained.”
The narratives between characters tends to ramble here and there and with that, I would start drifting. Lots of good passages and quotes from this book though:
“You are never stronger…than when you land on the other side of despair.”
It’s a multicultural community examining who is a true English person, how the immigrants fit in, the many different holidays and religious celebrations which do not overlap cultures and how the children of the immigrants identify with their lives. Kids usually adapt.
“Greeting cards routinely tell us everybody deserves love. No. Everybody deserves clean water. Not everybody deserves love all the time.”
This is #25 on the list HERE.