Hobbes, Smith, Bentham, Locke and Russell.
Five identical blocks make up the Caldwell housing estate in North West London.
If you grew up in this relic of seventies urban design, the plan was to get out and get on, to something better, somewhere else. Thirty years later, Caldwell kids Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan have all moved on, with varying degrees of success – whatever that means. Living only streets apart, they occupy separate worlds, and navigate an atomized city in which few care to be their neighbour’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, where the main streets hide the back alleys and taking the high road can sometimes lead you to a dead end, NW is a quietly devastating novel of encounters.
Depicting the modern urban zone – familiar to town-dwellers everywhere – Zadie Smith’s brilliant tragi-comic new novel is as mercurial and vital as the city itself.
Zadie Smith was born in north-west London in 1975, and continues to live in the area. White Teeth is her first novel and won awards for Best Book and Best Female Newcomer at the BT Emma Awards (Ethnic and Multicultural Media Awards), the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread Prize for a first novel in 2000, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction 2000, the WH Smith Book Award for New Talent, the Frankfurt eBook Award for Best Fiction Work Originally Published in 2000 and both the Commonwealth Writers First Book Award and Overall Commonwealth Writers Prize.
Her other novels are The Autograph Man and On Beauty, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2005 and won the Orange Prize for Fiction 2006. She also edited the collection of contemporary short fiction The Book of Other People, and wrote Changing My Mind, a collection of personal and cultural essays.
Her forthcoming novel, NW, will be published by Hamish Hamilton in 2012.
About the Contributor
While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. Now, as the Director of Books at booktopia.com.au, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection.