The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith

autograph man

I was quite disappointed with this, perhaps because I’d heard so much about Zadie Smith that I had unconsciously built her up for an inevitable fall.

She’s definitely funny, one of the more talented comic writers I’ve come across and the story itself is very witty and idiosyncratic in this respect but there was too much fluff for me to really enjoy this book.

Didn’t at all get the Jewish religiosity running throughout. Tried to see it as metaphor, existential musings or whatever purpose it was intended to achieve but failed. Downright confusing at times but always tedious.

Really colourful cast of characters (the autograph men were particularly enjoyable) but I found it hard to relate to the core group of friends that surrounded Alex, especially his relationship with Adam. Their strange tenderness towards one another always felt out of place and just didn’t seem believable. It must also be said that Adam was the main culprit of the theological ramblings and Alex was a narcissistic alcoholic.

I didn’t like the ending either, which occurred aptly during a Jewish religious service. Nothing was realised, just more tedium heaped upon the reader.

For wit and imagination, 3/5.


You can reserve a copy online at South Dublin Libraries’ catalogue here.

2 thoughts on “The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith

  1. The Autograph Man is definitely NOT Zadie Smith’s best work. You should give her another try! My favorite is NW, but White Teeth is also great. I think in her later stuff she found the balance between her zaniness, her Dickensian propensity for a large cast of colorful characters, and the seriousness and plot continuity to tether it all and make you want to keep reading.

    Liked by 1 person

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