British Black History Reading Group: White Teeth by Zadie Smith

Wednesday 18 August 2021

Due to popular demand, Kingston University Reading Group and Kingston Libraries will be running regular reading group sessions in 2021, as part of their British Black History celebrations. These reading group sessions are open to all staff and students at the University and all members of our local community.


British Black History should not just be celebrated for one month of the year. The need to recognise and remember events that have happened in the past and acknowledge how history influences our present and future, should happen throughout the year. Reading groups sessions such as ours provide us all with the perfect opportunity to have conversations about race and race equality so that together we can begin to unlearn, relearn, and reflect.

On 18 th August 2021, 5-6.30pm we will be reading and discussing Zadie Smith’s White Teeth. Our session will take place online (invite to be circulated nearer the time).

On the surface the plot of ‘White Teeth’ (2000) seems quite straightforward; It is about two families, the Jones and the Iqbal. However, as the plot unfolds and the story develops, it soon becomes apparent that ‘White Teeth’ is about so much more. By detailing the lives of these two London-based families, in her debut novel Zadie Smith gives the reader insight into the lived experience of a large cast of characters in an equally large array of spaces, from a Jamaican hair salon in North London, to a liberal public school. In doing so ‘White Teeth’ also tackles the big themes of faith, race, gender, history and culture head on, making it the perfect novel to read and discuss together over the summer.

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