Quotes from White Teeth

Zadie Smith ·  448 pages

Rating: (97K votes)


“You are never stronger...than when you land on the other side of despair.”
― Zadie Smith, quote from White Teeth


“Every moment happens twice: inside and outside, and they are two different histories.”
― Zadie Smith, quote from White Teeth


“It's a funny thing about the modern world. You hear girls in the toilets of clubs saying, "Yeah, he fucked off and left me. He didn't love me. He just couldn't deal with love. He was too fucked up to know how to love me." Now, how did that happen? What was it about this unlovable century that convinced us we were, despite everything, eminently lovable as a people, as a species? What made us think that anyone who fails to love us is damaged, lacking, malfunctioning in some way? And particularly if they replace us with a god, or a weeping madonna, or the face of Christ in a ciabatta roll---then we call them crazy. Deluded. Regressive. We are so convinced of the goodness of ourselves, and the goodness of our love, we cannot bear to believe that there might be something more worthy of love than us, more worthy of worship. Greeting cards routinely tell us everybody deserves love. No. Everybody deserves clean water. Not everybody deserves love all the time.”
― Zadie Smith, quote from 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, quote from White Teeth


“Greeting cards routinely tell us everybody deserves love. No. Everybody deserves clean water. Not everybody deserves love all the time.”
― Zadie Smith, quote from White Teeth


“You must live life with the full knowledge that your actions will remain. We are creatures of consequence.”
― Zadie Smith, quote from White Teeth


“...They cannot escape their history any more than you yourself can lose your shadow.”
― Zadie Smith, quote from White Teeth


“...the wicked lie, that the past is always tense and the future, perfect.”
― Zadie Smith, quote from White Teeth


“Our children will be born of our actions. Our accidents will become their destinies. Oh, the actions will remain. It is a simple matter of what you will do when the chips are down, my friend. When the fat lady is singing. When the walls are falling in, and the sky is dark, and the ground is rumbling. In that moment our actions will define us. And it makes no difference whether you are being watched by Allah, Jesus, Buddah, or whether you are not. On cold days a man can see his breath, on a hot day he can't. On both occasions, the man breathes.”
― Zadie Smith, quote from White Teeth


“In the end, your past is not my past and your truth is not my truth and your solution - is not my solution.”
― Zadie Smith, quote from White Teeth


“Then he gave her a kiss on the forehead that felt like a baptism and she wept like a baby.”
― Zadie Smith, quote from White Teeth


“This is what divorce is: taking things you no longer want from people you no longer love.”
― Zadie Smith, quote from 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, quote from White Teeth


“... don't ever underestimate people, don't ever underestimate the pleasure they receive from viewing pain that is not their own... Pain by itself is just Pain. But Pain + Distance can = entertainment, voyeurism, human interest, cinéma vérité, a good belly chuckle, a sympathetic smile, a raised eyebrow, disguised contempt.”
― Zadie Smith, quote from White Teeth


“These days, it feels to me like you make a devil's pact when you walk into this country. You hand over your passport at the check-in, you get stamped, you want to make a little money, get yourself started... but you mean to go back! Who would want to stay? Cold, wet, miserable; terrible food, dreadful newspapers - who would want to stay? In a place where you are never welcomed, only tolerated. Just tolerated. Like you are an animal finally house-trained.”
― Zadie Smith, quote from White Teeth


Please. Do me this one, great favor, Jones. If ever you hear anyone, when you are back home...if ever you hear anyone speak of the East," and here his voice plummeted a register, and the tone was full and sad, "hold your judgment. If you are told 'they are all this' or 'they do this' or 'their opinions are these,' withhold your judgment until all the facts are upon you. Because that land they call 'India' goes by a thousand names and is populated by millions, and if you think you have found two men the same among that multitude, then you are mistaken. It is merely a trick of the moonlight.”
― Zadie Smith, quote from White Teeth


“Where I come from," said Archie, "a bloke likes to get to know a girl before he marries her."
"Where you come from it is customary to boil vegetables until they fall apart. This does not mean," said Samad tersely, "that it is a good idea.”
― Zadie Smith, quote from White Teeth


“No fiction, no myths, no lies, no tangled webs - this is how Irie imagined her homeland. Because homeland is one of the magical fantasy words like unicorn and soul and infinity that have now passed into language.”
― Zadie Smith, quote from White Teeth


“Full stories are as rare as honesty.”
― Zadie Smith, quote from White Teeth


“For ridding oneself of faith is like boiling seawater to retrieve the salt--something is gained but something is lost.”
― Zadie Smith, quote from White Teeth


“Generally, women can't do this, but men retain the ancient ability to leave a family and a past. They just unhook themselves, like removing a fake beard, and skulk discreetly back into society, changed men. Unrecognizable.”
― Zadie Smith, quote from White Teeth


“I cannot believe homosexuality is that much fun. Heterosexuality certainly is not.”
― Zadie Smith, quote from 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, quote from White Teeth


“...despite all this, it is still hard to admit that there is no one more English than the Indian, no one more Indian than the English. There are still young white men who are angry about that; who will roll out at closing time into the poorly lit streets with a kitchen knife wrapped in a tight fist. But it makes an immigrant laugh to hear the fears of the nationalist, scared of infection, penetration, miscegenation, when this is small fry, peanuts, compared to what the immigrant fears - dissolution, disappearance.”
― Zadie Smith, quote from White Teeth


“That girl,' tutted Alsana as her front door slammed, 'swallowed an encyclopedia and a gutter at the same time.”
― Zadie Smith, quote from White Teeth


“We are so convinced of the goodness of ourselves, and the goodness of our love, we cannot bear to believe that there might be something more worthy of love than us, more worthy of worship. Greeting cards routinely tell us everybody deserves love. No. Everybody deserves clean water. Not everybody deserves love all the time.”
― Zadie Smith, quote from White Teeth


“... Clara was a teenage girl like any other; the object of her passion was only an accessory to the passion itself, a passion that through its long suppression was now asserting itself with volcanic necessity.”
― Zadie Smith, quote from White Teeth


“(and Catholics give out forgiveness at about the same rate as politicians give out promises and whores give out)”
― Zadie Smith, quote from White Teeth


About the author

Zadie Smith
Born place: in London Borough of Brent, The United Kingdom
Born date October 27, 1975
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Popular quotes

“There are at the present time two great nations in the world, which started from different points, but seem to tend towards the same end. I allude to the Russians and the Americans. Both of them have grown up unnoticed; and whilst the attention of mankind was directed elsewhere, they have suddenly placed themselves in the front rank among the nations, and the world learned their existence and their greatness at almost the same time.

All other nations seem to have nearly reached their natural limits, and they have only to maintain their power; but these are still in the act of growth. All the others have stopped, or continue to advance with extreme difficulty; these alone are proceeding with ease and celerity along a path to which no limit can be perceived. The American struggles against the obstacles which nature opposes to him; the adversaries of the Russian are men. The former combats the wilderness and savage life; the latter, civilization with all its arms. The conquests of the American are therefore gained with the ploughshare; those of the Russian by the sword. The Anglo-American relies upon personal interest to accomplish his ends, and gives free scope to the unguided strength and common sense of the people; the Russian centres all the authority of society in a single arm. The principal instrument of the former is freedom; of the latter, servitude. Their starting-point is different, and their courses are not the same; yet each of them seems marked out by the will of Heaven to sway the destinies of half the globe.”
― Alexis de Tocqueville, quote from Democracy in America


“Be cool, dear student. The heart of manipulation is to empathize without being touched.”
― Vernor Vinge, quote from A Fire Upon the Deep


“He has a passport," my classmates would whisper. "Quick, let's run before he judges us!”
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“If you think you love me, then you don’t know what love is,' Gabriel said. 'Love has to be reciprocated for it to be real.”
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“Well. We’ll just have to hope that this wasn’t a loup-garou, I guess.” “If it was a louper, you’d know,” Bob said wisely. “In the middle of this town, you’d have a dozen people dead every time the full moon came around. What’s going on?” “A dozen people are dying every time the full moon comes around.”
― Jim Butcher, quote from Fool Moon


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