The Autograph Man by Zadie Smith

We meet Alex-Li Tandem at a pro-wrestling match at the age of thirteen. This event is monumental in two ways. His dad dies, and his soon-to-be longtime friend Joseph introduces him to the world of autograph collecting.

Fifteen years later, Alex is an autograph man­ (autograph dealer). Alex’s worship of celebrity is mostly directed towards one movie star, Kitty Alexander, and this obsession distracts him from grief over his father’s death and prevents him from having any real emotional connection.

I didn’t like this book for three reasons (Please note all of this is said with the proviso that Zadie Smith is undeniably amazing and her writing in this book is still incredible). I just didn’t find the characters in The Autograph Man particularly compelling. Alex is an irresponsible, selfish daydreamer but not in an interesting way. The plot is a bit loosey-goosey, and there are a few bells and whistles that don’t quite land (themed chapters, lists of Jewishness and goyishness).⁣⁣ ⁣

I was excited for my second Zadie Smith booth (The last book I read was Swing Time) but The Autograph Man didn’t hit the mark for me. Looking forward to reading her again though.

Ignite Communications