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Zadie Smith’s “White Teeth” Quotes (26 Quotes)


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  • Getting anything out of my husband is like trying to squeeze water out when you're stoned.
    (Zadie Smith, "White Teeth")

  • Greeting cards routinely tell us everyone deserves love. No. Everyone deserves clean water. Not everyone deserves love all of the time.
    (Zadie Smith, "White Teeth")

  • I cannot believe homosexuality is that much fun. Heterosexuality certainly is not.
    (Zadie Smith, "White Teeth")

  • If religion is the opiate of the people, tradition is an even more sinister analgesic, simply because it rarely appears sinister. If religion is a tight band, a throbbing vein, and a needle, tradition is a far homelier concoction: poppy seeds ground into tea; a sweet cocoa drink laced with cocaine; the kind of thing your grandmother might have made.
    (Zadie Smith, "White Teeth")

  • I'm serious. I don't know how you work like that. My school shit is better organized, and I'm not in the business of World Domination.
    (Zadie Smith, "White Teeth")


  • It wasn't like the spare rooms of immigrants - packed to the rafters with all that they have ever possessed, no matter how defective or damaged, mountains of odds and ends - the stand testament to the fact that they have things now, where before they had nothing.
    (Zadie Smith, "White Teeth")

  • A trauma is something one repeats and repeats, after all, and this is the tragedy of the Iqbals--that they can't help but reenact the dash they once made from one land to another, from one faith to another, from one brown mother country into the pale, freckled arms of an imperial sovereign.
    (Zadie Smith, "White Teeth")

  • One just has to look at the thing from a perspective that interests you personally.
    (Zadie Smith, "White Teeth")

  • And the sins of the Eastern father shall be visited upon the Western sons. Often taking their time, stored up in the genes like baldness or testicular carcinoma, but sometimes on the very same day.
    (Zadie Smith, "White Teeth")

  • Pulchritude--beauty where you would least suspect it, hidden in a word that looked like it should signify a belch or a skin infection.
    (Zadie Smith, "White Teeth")

  • Because immigrants have always been particularly prone to repetition - it's something to do with that experience of moving from West to East or East to West or from island to island. Even when you arrive, you're still going back and forth; your children are going round and round. There's no proper term for it - original sin seems too harsh; maybe original trauma would be better.
    (Zadie Smith, "White Teeth")

  • Sacrifice was nine tenths of parenting.
    (Zadie Smith, "White Teeth")

  • Blimey, thought Kelvin, what an eye-to-face ratio. When you want to say something delicate, you don't want that eye-to-face ration staring up at you. Big eyes, like a child's or a baby seal's; the physiognomy of innocence--looking at Archie Jones is like looking at something that expects to be clubbed round the head any second.
    (Zadie Smith, "White Teeth")

  • So there existed fathers who dealt in the present, who didn't drag ancient history around like a ball and chain. So there were men who were not neck-deep and sinking in the quagmire of the past.
    (Zadie Smith, "White Teeth")

  • But why think the more reasons there were to sin, the smaller the sin was?
    (Zadie Smith, "White Teeth")


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