Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Take two: The Autograph Man, Zadie Smith

For a full review, see my Patreon

For a decade this’d been sitting unread in my collection, its 2002 publication going unnoticed by me: just back home from a disastrous nine-year foray to Tokyo I’d suffered from delusions and ended up in a mental institution. Japan treated me unkindly and in Smith’s novel the protagonist – who’s half Chinese and Jewish – also struggles with the world (there’d be nothing to write about if he didn’t), the writer spending time painting contemporary reality full of accidental effort and bent dreams, working slowly so that by the time the story really opens you’re at page 100, at an auction with Alex Li-Tandem seated next to two familiars, men who, like him, buy and sell autographs. The subject matter integral to Smith’s comic and cosmic purpose; she wrings the planet through her creative mangle, its wrinkles and flaws alternately flattened out with ridicule and praise.

No comments: