Swing Time by Zadie Smith


On an unremarkable Saturday in 1982, two girls meet. Two brown girls who both dream of being dancers – but only one, Tracey, has talent; a talent so undeniable she is taught to rely on it as a promise, as a way out. The other is taught she has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. She is taught her future is her own to decide.

Theirs a close but complicated childhood friendship that halts abruptly in their early twenties as their two paths diverge and their lives dance out of each other’s view, but never out of their shadow.

Dazzlingly energetic and deeply human, Swing Time is a story about friendship and music and stubborn roots, about how we are shaped by these things and how we can survive them. Moving from north-west London to West Africa, it is a story about the turn and dip and sway of lives in endless, perpetual motion; an exuberant dance to the music of time.

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‘Smith’s finest. Extraordinary, truly marvellous’ Observer

‘Superb’ Financial Times

‘Breathtaking’ TLS

‘Pitch-perfect’ Daily Telegraph

‘A tale of two girls who meet in a West London dance class… A page-turner that’s also beautifully written ‘ Glamour

‘There is still no better chronicler of the modern British family than Zadie Smith’ Telegraph

Additional information

Dimensions 19.6 × 13 cm





464 pages


Penguin Books


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