Boris Johnson labels acclaimed Zadie Smith novel White Teeth ‘unreadable’ on West Hampstead visit

Boris Johnson purchasing Zadie Smith's latest novel NW at West End Lane Books.

Boris Johnson purchasing Zadie Smith's latest novel NW at West End Lane Books. - Credit: Archant

Apparently Boris Johnson isn’t keen on novelist Zadie Smith’s award-winning debut but that didn’t stop him buying her latest work during a trip to West Hampstead.

Zadie Smith reads from her new book NW during a visit to Swiss Cottage Library earlier this year. Pi

Zadie Smith reads from her new book NW during a visit to Swiss Cottage Library earlier this year. Picture: Nigel Sutton. - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Heathman was perusing the shelves in West End Lane Books last Thursday when the Mayor of London burst into the bookstore alongside Simon Marcus, Hampstead and Kilburn Conservatives’ parliamentary candidate in the 2015 general election.

It seems Mr Johnson was keen to pick up a new read as he strolled along West End Lane during an official visit to West Hampstead, organised by Mr Marcus.

Bewildered by the vastness of choice on offer, the mayor turned to staff for a recommendation and was handed a copy of local girl Zadie Smith’s latest offering NW, an ode to the north-west London of her childhood.

Conversation quickly moved to White Teeth - the book that made the former Hampstead School pupil’s name - with Mr Johnson describing it as “unreadable”.


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But within seconds of delivering that unforgiving review, he was handing over cash for Ms Smith’s new work.

Mr Johnson, the author of several books of his own, is obviously willing to give Zadie another chance.

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