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CriticasA New York Times best seller and the winner of Britain's Guardian First Book and Whitebread First Novel awards, this title by British novelist Smith intertwines the multigenerational story of three families in a scrubby North London suburb. Epic in scale but immensely funny and full of local detail, the novel constructs a complicated, hybrid universe of Jamaican and Bangladeshi immigrants, working class Londoners, and an upper-middle-class British family while exploring issues of class, race, gender politics, and multiculturalism. Smith first traces the lives of Archie Jones, his beautiful but bucktoothed Jamaican wife, and his former World War II partner, Bangladeshi immigrant Samad Iqbal. She then takes on the next generation, the children, who are tutored by a wealthy, guilt-ridden British family whose members include a famous scientist and an obsessive mother. Spanish translator De la Fuente does a good job of preserving the novel's fast-paced rhythm. But she replaces Smith's British vernacular with Spanish colloquialisms and idioms that could alienate some Hispanic readers and diminish the narrative impact of the story. "There bloody wasn't anything else" becomes "que punetas iba a hacer," and "being high" turns into the regional "estar colocado." Moreover, her translation simplifies some of the idiosyncratic descriptions and unique tone of the original. "Bull of a man" becomes hombreton instead of "un toro de hombre," for instance. The language of the translation, particularly the dialog, tends to be more formal than its English counterpart, diminishing Smith's playful and unaffected style. But this widely acclaimed novel is still one of the most significant additions to recentBritish literature and a poignant and political attempt to explore the dramas and conflicts of multicultural interactions. An important purchase for public libraries and bookstores.
—Maria Ospina, New York City Vargas Llosa, Mario. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.