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On Beauty | Book Review

Since I have a reading goal of so few books this year, I’ve decided to try to review every single one, as far as possible. 🙂 I’ve been good about it so far, as you can see.

I’m back in college and I started reading On Beauty by Zadie Smith on the plane. Well, in the airport, technically, but I didn’t read much in the airport. I went ahead and finished it the same day (yesterday) because apparently, I really can only read in college. I’m so screwed once I graduate! 

This book is hilarious and honest. It’s a very accurate portrait of humanity, in a way. It’s about two feuding families (as tales often are) and it begins with the son of one family falling in love with the daughter of the other. And then it goes crazy. No, really. The genre of this book is apparently ‘hysterical realism’ where things spin out of control in an exaggerated way in the narrative, while the overall story still continues to be an accurate sociological examination using characters. If that makes sense. And if I understood that right. Another book I read which seemed to be of the same genre is Identity by Milan Kundera, which is an excellent book as well. Everyone should read it.

But back to this book:

I feel like the author managed to accomplish everything she wanted to, if that makes sense. And I loved the ending too. The ending, and indeed the whole book, managed to speak of the pretensions of persons and of their weaknesses without alluding to them overtly. It also spoke volumes about love without being romantic in the least.

This book is also wonderfully feminist. The women are very flawed and positively annoying but one still loves them. That’s… well, it’s real life, isn’t it?

I like how the author was critical about almost all her characters, during the third person narrative, but it never seems unduly cruel or judgemental.It just added to the vivid imagery throughout the novel. Long descriptions usually bore me, but that was not the case in this book because she cleverly intersperses the story with the descriptions, making it interesting, and more memorable at the same time .

It was a pretty powerful book in terms of the social commentary it offers about racism, sexism, classism and so many other prejudices which we tend to carry, consciously and sub-consciously, even while seeing ourselves as morally superior “liberal” persons, but I must clarify that she in no way, is critical of the liberal socialist political ideology. The idea perpetrated through out the book is to engage in a constant self-examination to understand our own perception biases and alter them on self-recognition or if they are pointed out to us, to take them in the spirit intended and focus on self-improvement. That’s just what I got out of it. 🙂

The important and impressive thing is that at no point during the conveyance of this message does se lose herimpeccable grasp on the storyline, which makes the reading experience enjoyable in addition to educational.

Well, that’s it. I loved it, in case you guys couldn’t tell. I gave it five stars. I definitely recommend it. Like I already mentioned, I’m trying to #readdiversely in 2015, and if this is what it entails, I sure am glad I’m trying. 🙂 On that note,



1 thought on “On Beauty | Book Review

  1. […] the whole genre/writing tool of hysterical realism now and I can’t wait to read more of it. Here’s the full review I wrote of […]

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