Through sweeping themes of race, friendship, family, and feminist politics, we enter the lives of Tracey, an accomplished dancer; Aimee, a superstar (think Madonna); a mother and wife, an ardent feminist; and others who make up the world of our unnamed narrator.
Tracey and “unnamed narrator” meet in London as young girls taking dance. They are immediately drawn to each other for their mixed-race similarity and for the love of music and dance. They both aspire to become professional dancers, but because of flat feet, our narrator does not have the talent she needs, and their paths diverge, though Tracey stays in the narrator’s heart throughout the novel.
The narrator goes on to become a personal assistant to Aimee, and together they head to West Africa, where Aimee is determined to build a school that may or may not be what the community needs and is, perhaps, more a vanity project. Within the swirl of music and dance, the author explores what it means to be authentic, to be a friend, and to understand oneself.
Swing Time, by Zadie Smith. Penguin Press; ISBN 978-1-59420-398-5; $27.
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