White Teeth is a fictional book by British author Zadie Smith. It was published on 27th of January, 2000 in the United Kingdom by Hamish Hamilton. The 480 pages novel centered around Britain’s relationships with people from formerly colonized countries in Africa, Asia, and the Carribean.
White Teeth has claimed many awards. They include the 2000 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction, the 2000 Whitbread Book Award in category best first novel, and the Guardian First Book Award. Other honors are the Commonwealth Writers First Book Prize and the Betty Trask Award. It has as well been included in Time Magazine’s 100 Best English-Language Novels from 1923 to 2005.
The Characters in White Teeth includes Archie Jones (an Englishman and main character), Samah Iqbal (Archie’s best friend), Clara Jones (Archie’s young wife), Alsana Iqbal (Samah’s wife), Irie Jones (daughter of Clara and Archie), Millat Iqbal (one of Samah’s twin son), Magid Iqbal (twin brother of Millat), Marcus Chalfen (a Jewish genetic engineer), Joyce Chalfen (Marcus’s wife), and Joshua Chalfen (son of Joyce and Marcus).
Archie Jones, a 47-year-old Englishman nearly commits suicide when his disturbed Italian wife walked out on him. This happened on New Year’s Day and by the New Year’s Eve party, he has been filled with a fresh enthusiasm for life as he meets the much-younger Clara Bowden, a Jamaican woman whose mother, Hortense, is a devout Jehovah’s Witness. Soon, Archie and Clara got married and have a daughter, Irie, who grows up to be intelligent albeit low in self-confidence.
White Teeth also shows the life of Archie’s best friend, Samad Iqbal, a Bengali Muslim from Bangladesh who lives in London. Archie and Samad met in 1945 in the final days of World War II. Samad emigrated to Britain and married Alsana Begum in a traditional marriage. Their union is blessed with twin boys, Magid and Millat, who are the same age as Irie Jones. Samad finds it difficult to maintain his devotion to Islam in English life. His Muslim values are corrupted by his masturbating, drinking, and his affair with another lady.
Samad doesn’t want his sons to follow his path, so he sent Magid to Bangladesh in the hope that he will grow up properly under the teachings of Islam. From then on, the lives of the two boys follow a very different path. Magid becomes an anglicized atheist and scientist while Millat pursues a rebellious path of womanizing and drinking. Millat pledges allegiance to a militant Muslim fundamentalist brotherhood so as to fight for his people’s marginalization in English society.
The lives of the Joneses and Iqbals intertwine with that of the White, middle-class Chalfens. The educated Chalfens include Marcus, a university lecturer and geneticist, working on a controversial ‘Future Mouse Project’ and wife Joyce Chalfens, a horticulturist and part-time housewife. Millat and Irie both worked with Marcus on the Future Mouse Project. Irie took Magid for Millat for they are identical, and she eventually got pregnant and was unsure of the father of the child.
Things become worse as Millat, Clara’s mother Hortense, and Marcus’s son Joshua all plan to demonstrate their opposition to Marcus’s Future Mouse Project – which they view as an evil interference with their own beliefs. During their protest, Samad met Dr.Perret, a Nazi who he had thought Archie had killed during World War II after he has been captured. He was provoked and he runs over and begins cursing Archie. This led to an altercation which had Archie taking in a gunshot by Millat. At the end of the novel, Magid and Millat both serve community service for Millat’s crime. Joshua and Irie end up together and join Hortense in Jamaica in the year 2000.