Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Length: 464 pages
Audiobook Length: 13 hours and 46 minutes
First Published: 2016
Two brown girls dream of being dancers—but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, about black bodies and black music, what constitutes a tribe, or makes a person truly free. It’s a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten, either.
Tracey makes it to the chorus line but struggles with adult life, while her friend leaves the old neighborhood behind, traveling the world as an assistant to a famous singer, Aimee, observing close up how the one percent live.
But when Aimee develops grand philanthropic ambitions, the story moves from London to West Africa, where diaspora tourists travel back in time to find their roots, young men risk their lives to escape into a different future, the women dance just like Tracey—the same twists, the same shakes—and the origins of a profound inequality are not a matter of distant history, but a present dance to the music of time.
Quotes from Swing Time
People aren’t poor because they make bad choices. They make bad choices because they’re poor.
Sometimes I wonder if people don’t want freedom as much as they want meaning.
She measured time in pages. Half an hour, to her, meant ten pages read, or fourteen, depending on the size of the type, and when you think of time in this way there isn’t time for anything else.
I often wondered: is it some kind of a trade-off? Do others have to lose so we can win?
Nostalgia is a luxury.
About Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith is the author of the novels White Teeth, The Autograph Man, The Fraud, On Beauty, NW, and Swing Time, as well as two collections of essays, Changing My Mind, Feel Free, and Grand Union. Visit the author’s website →