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2 Beaverton Literature- A to Z

On Beauty: A Novel

by

On Beauty: A Novel Cover

ISBN13: 9780143037743
ISBN10: 0143037749
Condition: Standard
All Product Details

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Awards

Winner of the 2006 Orange Prize
2006 Morning News Tournament of Books Nominee

Review-A-Day

"Finally On Beauty is an odd mixture — alternately amusing, perceptive, even emotionally absorbing, with some of the narrative zest of White Teeth, and then too often schematic, insistent, or simply not quite credible. The American academic setting, which Smith knows but perhaps not well enough, and the emulation of Howards End, which is an interesting idea that does not altogether fit this fictional world, may have led her astray." Robert Alter, the New Republic (read the entire New Republic review)

"Smith displays all her strengths: satirical energy, imaginative breadth (she's equally engaging about the inner lives of a teenage boy and a middle-aged mother), and a sure and funny touch with jumbled ethnicities....[T]here's no doubting the artistic conviction that underlies this unabashedly conventional novel. It's hard to say what Horace or Leopardi would have made of On Beauty, but it might well have amused Forster, at least." Joseph O'Neill, Atlantic Monthly (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Howard Belsey, a Rembrandt scholar who doesn't like Rembrandt, is an Englishman abroad and a long-suffering professor at Wellington, a liberal New England arts college. He has been married for thirty years to Kiki, an American woman who no longer resembles the sexy activist she once was. Their three children passionately pursue their own paths: Levi quests after authentic blackness, Zora believes that intellectuals can redeem everybody, and Jerome struggles to be a believer in a family of strict atheists. Faced with the oppressive enthusiasms of his children, Howard feels that the first two acts of his life are over and he has no clear plans for the finale. Or the encore.

Then Jerome, Howard's older son, falls for Victoria, the stunning daughter of the right-wing icon Monty Kipps, and the two families find themselves thrown together in a beautiful corner of America, enacting a cultural and personal war against the background of real wars that they barely register. An infidelity, a death, and a legacy set in motion a chain of events that sees all parties forced to examine the unarticulated assumptions which underpin their lives. How do you choose the work on which to spend your life? Why do you love the people you love? Do you really believe what you claim to? And what is the beautiful thing, and how far will you go to get it?

Set on both sides of the Atlantic, Zadie Smith's third novel is a brilliant analysis of family life, the institution of marriage, intersections of the personal and political, and an honest look at people's deceptions. It is also, as you might expect, very funny indeed.

Review:

"Truly human, fully ourselves, beautiful,' muses a character in Smith's third novel, an intrepid attempt to explore the sad stuff of adult life, 21st century — style: adultery, identity crises and emotional suffocation, interracial and intraracial global conflicts and religious zealotry. Like Smith's smash debut, White Teeth (2000), this work gathers narrative steam from the clash between two radically different families, with a plot that explicitly parallels Howards End. A failed romance between the evangelical son of the messy, liberal Belseys — Howard is Anglo-WASP and Kiki African-American — and the gorgeous daughter of the staid, conservative, Anglo-Caribbean Kipps leads to a soulful, transatlantic understanding between the families' matriarchs, Kiki and Carlene, even as their respective husbands, the art professors Howard and Monty, amass matriel for the culture wars at a fictional Massachusetts university. Meanwhile, Howard and Kiki must deal with Howard's extramarital affair, as their other son, Levi, moves from religion to politics. Everyone theorizes about art, and everyone searches for connections, sexual and otherwise. A very simple but very funny joke — that Howard, a Rembrandt scholar, hates Rembrandt — allows Smith to discourse majestically on some of the master's finest paintings. The articulate portrait of daughter Zora depicts the struggle to incorporate intellectual values into action. The elaborate Forster homage, as well as a too-neat alignment between characters, concerns and foils, threaten Smith's insightful probing of what makes life complicated (and beautiful), but those insights eventually add up. 'There is such a shelter in each other,' Carlene tells Kiki; it's a take on Forster's 'Only Connect — ,' but one that finds new substance here. Agent, Georgia Garett at A.P. Watt. (Sept. 13)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"In this sharp, engaging satire, beauty's only skin-deep, but funny cuts to the bone." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Review:

"[A] boisterous, funny, poignant, and erudite novel that should firmly establish Smith as a literary force of nature." Booklist

Review:

"Ms. Smith possesses a captivating authorial voice...and in these pages, she uses that voice to enormous effect, giving us that rare thing: a novel that is as affecting as it is entertaining, as provocative as it is humane." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Review:

"[A] splendid work....With fully realized characters and a kaleidoscope of provocative issues, Smith has created a world you can truly enter. Highly recommended." Library Journal

Review:

"Smith has the gift of writing crackerjack dialogue....But On Beauty is too long-winded. Its actions, external and interior, don't always warrant its pages and pages of speech or description..." Boston Globe

Review:

"[S]plendid and bighearted....This is a 443-page novel you wish were longer — much longer — so that Smith could deepen her rich, marvelous story. (Grade: A-)" Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"While reading On Beauty it's easy to forget, and sometimes hard to believe, that Zadie Smith is scarcely out of her twenties. Her new novel is masterly on almost any level....E.M. Forster would be proud." Michael Dirda, The Washington Post

Review:

"She brings almost everything you want to the task: humor, brains, objectivity, equanimity, empathy, a pitch-perfect ear for smugness and cant, and then still more humor....On Beauty is that rare comic novel about the divisive cultural politics of the new century likely to amuse readers on the right as much as those on the left." Frank Rich, New York Times Book Review

Review:

"Chummy and big-hearted, it is also a tremendously good read, and those disappointed by...The Autograph Man will sink into it with relief....[R]ich and entertaining, and in spite of the ugly truths it uncovers, often quite beautiful." Denver Post

Synopsis:

Having hit bestseller lists from the New York Times to the San Francisco Chronicle, this wise, hilarious novel reminds us why Zadie Smith has rocketed to literary stardom. On Beauty is the story of an interracial family living in the university town of Wellington, Massachusetts, whose misadventures in the culture wars — on both sides of the Atlantic — serve to skewer everything from family life to political correctness to the combustive collision between the personal and the political. Full of dead-on wit and relentlessly funny, this tour de force confirms Zadie Smith's reputation as a major literary talent.

Synopsis:

By the summer of 1952, Beatrice Nightingale had taught school in New York City for 24 years, had been divorced from her Hollywood-composer husband for some 20 of those years, and had been estranged from her brother for nearly her entire life.  She had lived in the same small apartment since her wedding, a space still dominated by her ex-husband's piano--just as her life was still defined by his decisions of so long ago.
 
But that summer, her brother suddenly reached out to her for the first time in years, begging her to intercept and retrieve her nephew, a Paris runaway.  His request propels Bea toward decisions and departures--partly well intended, partly selfish--that unravel a complex knot of siblings, spouses, exes, and Bea's extended family, in an unforgettable portrait of a middle-aged woman who finally gains the chance to escape the traps of her past.  Bea travels to Paris, California, and back to New York, and the novel shifts perspective to reveal the stories of her niece, her nephew and his unexpected wife, Bea's brother and sister-in-law, and her ex-husband.  The men in her life have treated her badly, as she is painfully aware, yet in finally trying to gain her own independence from them, how can she resist her own, more subtle form of counterattack and revenge?
 
 

Synopsis:

New York Times Ten Best Books of 2012

“A boldly Joycean appropriation, fortunately not so difficult of entry as its great model… Like Zadie Smiths much-acclaimed predecessor White Teeth (2000), NW is an urban epic.” --Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books

This is the story of a city.

The northwest corner of a city. Here youll find guests and hosts, those with power and those without it, people who live somewhere special and others who live nowhere at all.  And many people in between.

Every city is like this. Cheek-by-jowl living. Separate worlds.

And then there are the visitations: the rare times a stranger crosses a threshold without permission or warning, causing a disruption in the whole system. Like the April afternoon a woman came to Leah Hanwells door, seeking help, disturbing the peace, forcing Leah out of her isolation…

Zadie Smiths brilliant tragi-comic new novel follows four Londoners - Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan – as they try to make adult lives outside of Caldwell, the council estate of their childhood. From private houses to public parks, at work and at play, their London is 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 town-dwellers everywhere – Zadie Smiths NW is a quietly devastating novel of encounters, mercurial and vital, like the city itself.

Synopsis:

New York Times Ten Best Books of 2012

“A boldly Joycean appropriation, fortunately not so difficult of entry as its great model… Like Zadie Smiths much-acclaimed predecessor White Teeth (2000), NW is an urban epic.” --Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books

This is the story of a city.

The northwest corner of a city. Here youll find guests and hosts, those with power and those without it, people who live somewhere special and others who live nowhere at all.  And many people in between.

Every city is like this. Cheek-by-jowl living. Separate worlds.

And then there are the visitations: the rare times a stranger crosses a threshold without permission or warning, causing a disruption in the whole system. Like the April afternoon a woman came to Leah Hanwells door, seeking help, disturbing the peace, forcing Leah out of her isolation…

Zadie Smiths brilliant tragi-comic new novel follows four Londoners - Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan – as they try to make adult lives outside of Caldwell, the council estate of their childhood. From private houses to public parks, at work and at play, their London is 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 town-dwellers everywhere – Zadie Smiths NW is a quietly devastating novel of encounters, mercurial and vital, like the city itself.

About the Author

Zadie Smith is the author of White Teeth and The Autograph Man.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

diane Trafton, February 9, 2013 (view all comments by diane Trafton)
New York Times best seller, winner of the Orange Prize for fiction, and short listed for the Man Booker Prize, "On Beauty" has something for every persuasion. Touching on personal beliefs vs. political convection, racial issues, old vs. young, and liberal vs. conservative, the satiric story line incorporates it all! What a great book for spirited discussions! This is a jewel of a book, brilliant!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Letterlover, January 24, 2011 (view all comments by Letterlover)
In this novel, Zadie Smith takes her reader inside the heart of a marriage. Her characters are utterly vibrant and bring alive cultural, racial, and generational conflicts, ultimately challenging the superficiality of all of them. This is not a new novel, of course, but it was my first brush with Smith's wit, insight, and compelling narrative line. Great stuff.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
sibleymg, January 4, 2010 (view all comments by sibleymg)
Beautiful language and narrative style -- amazing insights into academic communities, issues of ethnic and national identity, marriage and relationships, and, of course, the nature of the beautiful.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(0 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 3 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780143037743
Author:
Smith, Zadie
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Author:
Smith, Zadie
Author:
Ozick, Cynthia
Subject:
General
Subject:
Massachusetts
Subject:
College teachers
Subject:
Family saga
Subject:
Love stories
Subject:
Domestic fiction
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Number:
Reprint ed.
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
September 2006
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Pages:
464
Dimensions:
9 x 6 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects


Featured Titles » Literature
Featured Titles » Miscellaneous Award Winners
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Featured Titles
History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

On Beauty: A Novel Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.95 In Stock
Product details 464 pages Penguin Books - English 9780143037743 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Truly human, fully ourselves, beautiful,' muses a character in Smith's third novel, an intrepid attempt to explore the sad stuff of adult life, 21st century — style: adultery, identity crises and emotional suffocation, interracial and intraracial global conflicts and religious zealotry. Like Smith's smash debut, White Teeth (2000), this work gathers narrative steam from the clash between two radically different families, with a plot that explicitly parallels Howards End. A failed romance between the evangelical son of the messy, liberal Belseys — Howard is Anglo-WASP and Kiki African-American — and the gorgeous daughter of the staid, conservative, Anglo-Caribbean Kipps leads to a soulful, transatlantic understanding between the families' matriarchs, Kiki and Carlene, even as their respective husbands, the art professors Howard and Monty, amass matriel for the culture wars at a fictional Massachusetts university. Meanwhile, Howard and Kiki must deal with Howard's extramarital affair, as their other son, Levi, moves from religion to politics. Everyone theorizes about art, and everyone searches for connections, sexual and otherwise. A very simple but very funny joke — that Howard, a Rembrandt scholar, hates Rembrandt — allows Smith to discourse majestically on some of the master's finest paintings. The articulate portrait of daughter Zora depicts the struggle to incorporate intellectual values into action. The elaborate Forster homage, as well as a too-neat alignment between characters, concerns and foils, threaten Smith's insightful probing of what makes life complicated (and beautiful), but those insights eventually add up. 'There is such a shelter in each other,' Carlene tells Kiki; it's a take on Forster's 'Only Connect — ,' but one that finds new substance here. Agent, Georgia Garett at A.P. Watt. (Sept. 13)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Finally On Beauty is an odd mixture — alternately amusing, perceptive, even emotionally absorbing, with some of the narrative zest of White Teeth, and then too often schematic, insistent, or simply not quite credible. The American academic setting, which Smith knows but perhaps not well enough, and the emulation of Howards End, which is an interesting idea that does not altogether fit this fictional world, may have led her astray." (read the entire New Republic review)
"Review A Day" by , "Smith displays all her strengths: satirical energy, imaginative breadth (she's equally engaging about the inner lives of a teenage boy and a middle-aged mother), and a sure and funny touch with jumbled ethnicities....[T]here's no doubting the artistic conviction that underlies this unabashedly conventional novel. It's hard to say what Horace or Leopardi would have made of On Beauty, but it might well have amused Forster, at least." (read the entire Atlantic Monthly review)
"Review" by , "In this sharp, engaging satire, beauty's only skin-deep, but funny cuts to the bone."
"Review" by , "[A] boisterous, funny, poignant, and erudite novel that should firmly establish Smith as a literary force of nature."
"Review" by , "Ms. Smith possesses a captivating authorial voice...and in these pages, she uses that voice to enormous effect, giving us that rare thing: a novel that is as affecting as it is entertaining, as provocative as it is humane."
"Review" by , "[A] splendid work....With fully realized characters and a kaleidoscope of provocative issues, Smith has created a world you can truly enter. Highly recommended."
"Review" by , "Smith has the gift of writing crackerjack dialogue....But On Beauty is too long-winded. Its actions, external and interior, don't always warrant its pages and pages of speech or description..."
"Review" by , "[S]plendid and bighearted....This is a 443-page novel you wish were longer — much longer — so that Smith could deepen her rich, marvelous story. (Grade: A-)"
"Review" by , "While reading On Beauty it's easy to forget, and sometimes hard to believe, that Zadie Smith is scarcely out of her twenties. Her new novel is masterly on almost any level....E.M. Forster would be proud."
"Review" by , "She brings almost everything you want to the task: humor, brains, objectivity, equanimity, empathy, a pitch-perfect ear for smugness and cant, and then still more humor....On Beauty is that rare comic novel about the divisive cultural politics of the new century likely to amuse readers on the right as much as those on the left."
"Review" by , "Chummy and big-hearted, it is also a tremendously good read, and those disappointed by...The Autograph Man will sink into it with relief....[R]ich and entertaining, and in spite of the ugly truths it uncovers, often quite beautiful."
"Synopsis" by , Having hit bestseller lists from the New York Times to the San Francisco Chronicle, this wise, hilarious novel reminds us why Zadie Smith has rocketed to literary stardom. On Beauty is the story of an interracial family living in the university town of Wellington, Massachusetts, whose misadventures in the culture wars — on both sides of the Atlantic — serve to skewer everything from family life to political correctness to the combustive collision between the personal and the political. Full of dead-on wit and relentlessly funny, this tour de force confirms Zadie Smith's reputation as a major literary talent.
"Synopsis" by ,
By the summer of 1952, Beatrice Nightingale had taught school in New York City for 24 years, had been divorced from her Hollywood-composer husband for some 20 of those years, and had been estranged from her brother for nearly her entire life.  She had lived in the same small apartment since her wedding, a space still dominated by her ex-husband's piano--just as her life was still defined by his decisions of so long ago.
 
But that summer, her brother suddenly reached out to her for the first time in years, begging her to intercept and retrieve her nephew, a Paris runaway.  His request propels Bea toward decisions and departures--partly well intended, partly selfish--that unravel a complex knot of siblings, spouses, exes, and Bea's extended family, in an unforgettable portrait of a middle-aged woman who finally gains the chance to escape the traps of her past.  Bea travels to Paris, California, and back to New York, and the novel shifts perspective to reveal the stories of her niece, her nephew and his unexpected wife, Bea's brother and sister-in-law, and her ex-husband.  The men in her life have treated her badly, as she is painfully aware, yet in finally trying to gain her own independence from them, how can she resist her own, more subtle form of counterattack and revenge?
 
 
"Synopsis" by ,
New York Times Ten Best Books of 2012

“A boldly Joycean appropriation, fortunately not so difficult of entry as its great model… Like Zadie Smiths much-acclaimed predecessor White Teeth (2000), NW is an urban epic.” --Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books

This is the story of a city.

The northwest corner of a city. Here youll find guests and hosts, those with power and those without it, people who live somewhere special and others who live nowhere at all.  And many people in between.

Every city is like this. Cheek-by-jowl living. Separate worlds.

And then there are the visitations: the rare times a stranger crosses a threshold without permission or warning, causing a disruption in the whole system. Like the April afternoon a woman came to Leah Hanwells door, seeking help, disturbing the peace, forcing Leah out of her isolation…

Zadie Smiths brilliant tragi-comic new novel follows four Londoners - Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan – as they try to make adult lives outside of Caldwell, the council estate of their childhood. From private houses to public parks, at work and at play, their London is 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 town-dwellers everywhere – Zadie Smiths NW is a quietly devastating novel of encounters, mercurial and vital, like the city itself.

"Synopsis" by ,
New York Times Ten Best Books of 2012

“A boldly Joycean appropriation, fortunately not so difficult of entry as its great model… Like Zadie Smiths much-acclaimed predecessor White Teeth (2000), NW is an urban epic.” --Joyce Carol Oates, The New York Review of Books

This is the story of a city.

The northwest corner of a city. Here youll find guests and hosts, those with power and those without it, people who live somewhere special and others who live nowhere at all.  And many people in between.

Every city is like this. Cheek-by-jowl living. Separate worlds.

And then there are the visitations: the rare times a stranger crosses a threshold without permission or warning, causing a disruption in the whole system. Like the April afternoon a woman came to Leah Hanwells door, seeking help, disturbing the peace, forcing Leah out of her isolation…

Zadie Smiths brilliant tragi-comic new novel follows four Londoners - Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan – as they try to make adult lives outside of Caldwell, the council estate of their childhood. From private houses to public parks, at work and at play, their London is 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 town-dwellers everywhere – Zadie Smiths NW is a quietly devastating novel of encounters, mercurial and vital, like the city itself.

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