A book review of Zadie Smith’s new novel – Swing Time.
Swing Time is narrated in flickering time, with a story that bounces between decades. The narrator, never named, embodies the British and West Indian conflict, with an English father and a Jamaican mother. In her early adulthood, she finds herself working for a white Australian pop star turned global do-gooder, Aimee, who charges forward, always, allergic to the reflection (and self-abnegation) our narrator subsists on. As a child, our narrator lives for dance, one of the many art forms Aimee hoovers up, heading for a final appropriation that goes way beyond “being dressed up to resemble Asante nobles.” The narrator becomes fully aware of the self-interest baked into both entertainment and the humanitarian project Aimee decides is one of her mandates.