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8 January 2014

The Autograph Man
Zadie Smith
Hamish Hamilton
Publication Date
 12 September 2002
Contemporary Novel 

The protagonist of this story is Alex-Li Tandem, a Chinese-Jewish young man living in current day London. His job and obsession are autographs which he sells.  He hunts celebrities and the ultimate autograph of reclusive American actress Kitty Alexander. 
Many reviewers say that this book was a let-down after her very well received debut White Teeth. I actually never read White Teeth, so I'm looking at this with fresh eyes. I did like the story around Alex trying to find his identity as a Chinese Jew, the relationship with his father. I never knew there is such a big world of autograph hunters out there! Many of the points the book probably tries to make I just didn't get though. For example, there were references to Kabballah, Zen etc. But I did find the portrayal of the Rabbi and the synagogue attendances quite sweetly funny in a way (I don't mean to cause offence of course, just that it raised a smile with me, and, so I thought, they are not so different from the religious authorities of other faiths.) I finished the book thinking 'hmmm, and?' But this shouldn't discourage you from reading this fresh novel, if only to experience a different kind of book.