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What I'm Reading: David Cohen

February 11, 2013

David Cohen

DrexelNow spoke with law professor David S. Cohen about his thoughts on N.W., the latest novel by Zadie Smith, one of Cohen's favorite authors. The book—Smith’s fourth novel, released late last year—is the story of four characters who grew up together in an impoverished neighborhood in Northwest London. Cohen offers a mixed review of the book, which he says has not quite "consumed" him like Smith's earlier work. 

Why did you make this selection—what is it about this book/topic that you find important?

Smith’s first book, White Teeth, is probably my favorite book ever. In that book, she was brilliant and funny with a keen sense of observing and describing the ever-increasingly multicultural society in London (though applicable more broadly). Plus, it told an entertaining story of two intertwined but very different families and their relationships. Ever since reading that book, I’ve excitedly read everything she’s written, although her two follow-up books—The Autograph Man and On Beauty—have not been as good as White Teeth.

So far, has the selection lived up to your expectations? Why or why not?

I’m finding the same with N.W. as her other two books after White Teeth. It’s good, and she really knows how to write interesting characters that connect in different ways. But, it hasn’t brought me in enough to be as consumed with it as I had hoped. Maybe it will pick up soon—I do remember that the first 100 pages or so of White Teeth were good, but not nearly as amazing as the rest of the book. I hope that happens again with N.W.

Is there a passage/quote you find particularly interesting?

Not yet!