05 June 2008

Book Report: On Beauty

On Beauty is the third novel written by Zadie Smith, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite fiction writers. Last summer I read her debut novel, White Teeth, and I highly recommend picking it up. I'd love to go into more detail, but for this post I'm going to stick to OB. The novel discussed dealt with a lot of different themes relevant to this very blog, including the liberal/ conservative dichotomy, the purpose of art in society, aesthetics.

The story is rich in detail, so I'll only attempt a brief summary: Two families, the liberal Belseys and the progressive Kipps', interact with each other in a liberal college town called Wellington (near Boston). The fathers, Howard and Monty, respectively, are both professors in the Humanities department (Art History and Black Studies). Both are outspoken political pundits, both are renowned for their work on Rembrandt (who represents everything Monty loves and Howard despises). Anyways, I recommend giving it a read. Zadie Smith is a wonderful story teller, and I love the way she discusses race issues. Every time I read one of her books, I feel like I've learned something.

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