NW

by Zadie Smith
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This is the story of a city. The north-west corner of a city. Here you’ll find guests and hosts, those with power and those without it, people who live somewhere special and others who live nowhere at all. And many people in between. Every city is like this. Cheek-by-jowl living. Separate worlds.

And then there are the visitations: the rare times a stranger crosses a threshold without permission or warning, causing a disruption in the whole system. Like the April afternoon a woman came to Leah Hanwell’s door, seeking help, disturbing the peace, forcing Leah out of her isolation.

NW follows four Londoners – Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan – as they try to make adult lives outside Caldwell, the council estate of their childhood. From private houses to public parks, at work and at play, their London is a complicated place, as beautiful as it is brutal, where the thoroughfares hide the back alleys, and taking the high road can sometimes lead you to a dead end.

Zadie Smith was born in north-west London in 1975. She is the author of the novels White Teeth, The Autograph Man and On Beauty which won the Orange Prize for Fiction, and of a collection of essays, Changing My Mind. She is also the editor of The Book of Other People.