There are countless books out there that perfectly encapsulates London; Bleak House by Charles Dickens, Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo and Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding. None have managed to capture the eccentricity of local life as boldly as Zadie Smith.

More people than ever are searching for books to read, as PIA reveals that, thanks to social media, reading has become cool again. The number of prominent celebrities who have professed the benefits of reading has also had a massive impact on the popularity of this pastime.

Written in 2012, Smith’s NW is a stunning exploration of London culture, centring on the lives of four characters who grew up together in a northwest housing estate. There are various themes in NW, covering pertinent topics such as race and class identity in the capital.

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Is This Your Next Read?

With so many novels to choose from, though, it can be hard to pick just one. It’s sometimes a great option to choose a book that is relevant to you or where you live. For people who live or grew up in London, NW will really hit home. Smith was directly inspired by growing up in Willesden, and despite NW’s publication over ten years ago, the recurring theme of technology and anonymity is just as impactful now, if not more than before.

NW was translated into several languages including Spanish, German, French, and Italian, demonstrating the novel’s international appeal. NW is accessible to readers all over the world who want to get a taste of London life. The book was also well-received by critics. It was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and it was longlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize, NW is an incredible read for people outside of London who want to learn about the city’s culture.

Novel Adapted into a BBC Series

Four years after its publication, the BBC produced and released the television adaptation of NW that was referred to as “grim but compelling” in the Radio Times. Featuring strong performances from its talented cast, NW (2016) brought Smith’s words to life successfully on screen.

The series was directed by Saul Dibb and starred a talented ensemble cast that included Nikki Amuka-Bird, Phoebe Fox, and O-T Fagbenle. It was praised by The Guardian for its faithful adaptation of the novel’s complex themes and characters, and it was applauded for its sensitive and nuanced portrayal of London culture.

One of the most notable aspects of the NW series was its commitment to authenticity. The show was filmed on location in northwest London, and the producers worked closely with local community groups to ensure that the representation of the area and its residents were accurate and respectful.

There’s no doubt that NW is a remarkable novel, which captures the complexities and contradictions of modern-day London culture. The vivid writing brings the characters to life on the page, and it will go down as essential reading for Londoners and non-Londoners alike.