The Autograph Man is Zadie Smith's whirlwind tour of celebrity and our fame-obsessed times. Following one Alex-Li Tandem - a twenty-something, Chinese-Jewish autograph dealer turned on by sex, drugs and organised religion - it takes in London and New York, love and death, fathers and sons, as Alex tries to discover how a piece of paper can bring ...
The Autograph Man is Zadie Smith's whirlwind tour of celebrity and our fame-obsessed times. Following one Alex-Li Tandem - a twenty-something, Chinese-Jewish autograph dealer turned on by sex, drugs and organised religion - it takes in London and New York, love and death, fathers and sons, as Alex tries to discover how a piece of paper can bring him closer to his heart's desire. Exposing our misconceptions about our idols - about ourselves - Zadie Smith delivers in The Autograph Man a brilliant, unforgettable tale about who we are and what we really want to be. "A glorious concoction written by our most beguiling and original prose-wizard". (Independent on Sunday). "A brilliant comedy with a tantalising throb of mystic philosophy underneath". (Philip Hensher, Books of the Year, Spectator). "A pleasure from the first page to the last". (Evening Standard). "Intellectually agile ...ecstatic inventiveness". (Time). "A classic". (Spectator). "Genuinely funny and entertaining". (Guardian). "Vibrant, highly imaginative". (Jewish Chronicle). "Full of irony, humour, the search for love and the fear of death ...a touching, thoughtful, deeply felt rite-of-passage novel". (Sunday Telegraph). Zadie Smith was born in north-west London in 1975. Her debut novel, White Teeth, won the Whitbread First Novel Award, the Guardian First Book Award, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction, and the Commonwealth Writers' First Book Prize, and was included in TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005. Her second novel, On Beauty, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Orange Prize for Fiction. She has written two further novels, The Autograph Man and NW, a collection of essays, Changing My Mind, and has edited a short-story collection, The Book of Other People.
Publishers Weekly, 2002-09-30 Smith's eagerly awaited second novel begins with a bang, but rapidly loses momentum, slipping from tragicomedy to rather overdetermined farce. The introductory set piece is panoramically sock-o in the best Martin Amis tradition, taking us from Doctor Li-Jin Tandem's outing with his son's friends to see a wrestling match in Albert Hall to his sudden death from a massive stroke. Fifteen years to the week later, Li-Jin's son, Alex, is being pressed by his friends, Adams Jacobs and Joseph Klein, to say Kaddish for his dad. Alex is an autograph trader and obsessive egotist. Over the course of the week, he wrecks his car on an acid trip, goes to New York in quest of the legendary retired actress Kitty Alexander, frees her from her mad manager (who promptly announces her death to the papers, thus inflating the value of her signature) and gets his girlfriend Esther, Adam's sister, angry enough that she suspends their relationship. Smith paints portraits of a very multiculti Judaism: Adam, for instance, is a black Jew, while Alex is a disbelieving Chinese one. Adam's kabbalistic interests are supposed to operate in Smith's text the way Homer's poem operated in Ulysses, giving it a mythic dimension, but the big theme of Jewishness feels tacked on, like a marquee advertising a former attraction. Smith's pen portraits of the shabby, yobbish autograph trading circle are intermittently funny, but her prose is so busy being clever that the laughter never builds. This is disappointing but, even with its faults, the novel points to a literary talent of a high order. (Oct. 8) Forecast: Smith's second novel should sell very well on the strength of her reputation alone, though it may not be the smash hit White Teeth was. Eight-city author tour. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
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