Between Forster and Gilroy: Race and (Re)connection in Zadie Smith’s NW

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Abstract

This article interprets Zadie Smith's novel NW (2012) as an attempt to link E. M. Forster's famous dictum "only connect" with Paul Gilroy's concept of "conviviality." NW's representation of two friends who are constituted by boundaries of class, race, and ethnicity but who also contest those limits points to the difficulties faced by many contemporary European minorities. In NW, the idea of race collaborates with that of ethnicity and class to form a strongly racialized logic through which the immigrant's upward mobility is subtly yet decisively affected. NW suggests that Gilroy's convivial society is only possible with Forsterian, interpersonal connections. Only after Leah and Natalie, the novel's central characters, rekindle their friendship, can they set in motion the novel's closing act of justice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-434
Number of pages16
JournalTulsa Studies in Women’s Literature
Volume37
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov-2018

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