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The Autograph Man af Zadie Smith

The Autograph Man (original 2002; udgave 2003)

af Zadie Smith

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingSamtaler / Omtaler
2,762373,733 (3.1)1 / 80
Alex-Li Tandem er autografmanden som lever af at opspore og sælge autografer, mens han lever livet med sin brogede flok af venner og veninder i London og har gang i mange forskellige gøremål.
Titel:The Autograph Man
Forfattere:Zadie Smith
Info:Penguin Books Ltd (2003), Paperback
Samlinger:Dit bibliotek
Nøgleord:British Fiction

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The Autograph Man af Zadie Smith (2002)


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Viser 1-5 af 37 (næste | vis alle)
Occasionally I read books that I am enjoying more-or-less until there is some shift in the narrative that either destroys my enjoyment of the book or ratchets it up wildly, but its rare that I read something where that happens at least a dozen times. The Autograph Man was that rare book where I went from loving to loathing to loving over and over, sometimes within a single chapter.

I did not check reviews before reading this, but I could not help noticing the VERY low average rating - a 3.16. Low ratings don't bother me, I find on the whole I am more likely to like a book rated 3.2 than one rated 4.2, but it surprised me for this book. This is not a literary book likely to be picked up by those who like page turners or who like their tragedy to come with tear-jerky wallowing rather than wry observation. Though this was Zadie Smith's second novel she was already a known quantity appealing to a particular type of reader who liked White Teeth, and those readers I figured probably shared my tastes to some degree. Still I dove in.

I started reading the preface, and thought "what is wrong with people, this is genius." And that rather lengthy preface does not falter. Its so good! Sadly, the book does not deliver on the preface's promise. There are parts of the book I might have liked more if I had not been set up by the preface to expect a wonderful rollicking read. In fact the part of the book I liked least was the 50 or so pages immediately following the preface. The story crashes to earth immediately after the preface. I sorta kinda hated that section where we spend time with Alex before he leaves London for NYC. I almost abandoned the book, and if that section had gone on another 10 pages I likely would have done. The book though does pick up in the NYC section, regardless of how improbable the story becomes. I loved the book's end, which made absolute sense though there is no resolution, just the merest whiff of growth and change which given the protagonist's stuntedness is a seismic shift.

Smith takes on some big themes here, themes I would think were very present for her as a young writer who achieved literary It Girl status with her first book. The emptiness of celebrity, and its utter disconnection from craft or art is overarching. I liked that she did not simply dismiss celebrity as silly and shallow, or ignore what appears to be a real human need for iconography. People need things like heroes and faith, which remain unchanged and unchangeable when things and people around us change and disappear at the moments we most need constancy. Smith was much less successful examining the distinctions between faith and tribal identification. I understand why she chose Jewish characters for this meditation, I don't think there are any other major religions or sects where that distinction between faith and tribe is more troubling and profound. Alex's relationship (or lack) to Judaism and to Jews and to Jewish culture is a great set up for that discussion, but I don't think Smith pulls it off.

I know non-Jewish writers who write great Jewish characters, but most don't, and Smith falls into the latter group. Alex-Li and his freinds did not resonate with me, they did not feel familiar or recognizable in any way. They really felt like constructs to illustrate things about what it means to be Jewish. And maybe that was the problem, their Jewishness was so central to everything they did, and that really felt off. And that clunky characterization was not limited to the Jews. I think the weakest most poorly written character in the book is a black buddhist woman, which is how Zadie Smith identifies (well secular buddhist-y). So much here is tone deaf which is not usually something I say about Zadie Smith.

In the end there were a lot of poorly drawn characters, a weird conflation of defining oneself and defining one's faith (I know faith is a part of how we define ourselves, but trust me that it would not have been this big a part for Alex, who identifies pretty comfortably as Atheist and who already acknowledges and accepts his tribal connection.), a lot of digressions, and serious structural problems. Still there were swaths of genius that gave me real pleasure and so I am calling the whole a 3. Its easier to afford the optimistic 3 rather than the disappointed 2 when I am reading back-catalogue. When dealing with a new writer I never know if a first brilliant book might have been an aberration. A lot of writers never deliver on the promise of a great first novel so I remain cautious, but I know Zadie Smith gave the world a great next novel (not to mention some spectacular essays) so I can see the way in which this not great novel made later great work possible. ( )
1 stem Narshkite | Aug 30, 2020 |
En berättelse om Alex Li Tanden som är autografjägare och drömmer om Kitty Alexanders autograf. Det är en udda samling karaktärer i ett mångkulturellt London. Boken behandlar ämnet vad som är viktigt i livet. Det är en diskussion om vad som är moraliskt rätt och inte. För mig växer boken efter hand och blir till en helt klart läsvärd upplevelse. Den är lite rörig stundtals men som helhet helt ok och tankeväckande. ( )
  Mats_Sigfridsson | Dec 20, 2019 |
Jewish Chinese Londoner Alex-Li Tandem buys and sells autographs. It's infrequent work, but he has managed to build enough of a reputation to be able to live off of it rather comfortably. It is also a convenient way to keep an eye on anything by Kitty Alexander, a long and almost entirely forgotten actress who has barely signed anything ever. Alex-Li has been sending her a letter every week, in the hopes of getting another signature or just a sign of life. When the hoped for reply arrives, Alex-Li's quest only starts.

The Autograph Man did not work for me. It's nicely written, but it suffers from an absolutely unlikeable protagonist and I was also weirded out by how Alex-Li's Jewishness is treated. It was mostly my own hard-headedness that made me finish it at all.

Read more on my blog: https://kalafudra.com/2018/09/09/the-autograph-man-zadie-smith/ ( )
  kalafudra | Jun 2, 2019 |
The reviews are true: this is not her best
  HeatherWhitney | Apr 25, 2019 |
I wanted to like this unusual story since there is good writing in there. But I couldn't. It has a prologue, which I usually hate, and I hate them more when they are too long. Shades of things to come. It got tedious because it's overstuffed with detail and scenes just go on too long. It's quirky, but not interesting and I didn't get attached to any of the characters to wade though all the minutiae.
  Bookmarque | Feb 9, 2019 |
Viser 1-5 af 37 (næste | vis alle)
Ms. Smith's latest novel, ''The Autograph Man,'' is similarly ambitious -- in this case tackling such sprawling themes as the consequences of fame, the hunger for religious faith, the tension between the symbolic and the mundane -- but it's a flat-footed, grudging performance. Dour where ''White Teeth'' was exuberant; abstract and pompous where ''White Teeth'' was brightly satiric; tight and preachy where ''White Teeth'' was expansive.
tilføjet af SimoneA | RedigerNew York Times, Michiko Kakutani (Sep 25, 2002)
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Alex-Li Tandem er autografmanden som lever af at opspore og sælge autografer, mens han lever livet med sin brogede flok af venner og veninder i London og har gang i mange forskellige gøremål.

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