So far, I’ve read two of Zadie Smith’s novels: On Beauty didn’t particularly engage me, but I found NW very good indeed; so I went into her Granta piece feeling unsure but hopeful.
‘Just Right’ (the title refers to the tale of Goldilocks) is described in Smith’s biographical note as ‘an excerpt from an unfinished novella’, though it works well enough as a complete piece. It takes us to 1970s New York, where young white boy Donovan Kendal is paired up for a school project with Cassie King, a black girl. As a result, Cassie is drawn into the orbit of the Kendals and their puppet theatre, but theirs is not a comfortable relationship. There’s an effective sense in the piece of emotions and events going on beyond Donovan’s understanding; but I can’t help wondering how events and themes might have carried forward into the rest of the novella. I guess I’ll never know.
This is part of a series of posts on Granta 123: Best of Young British Novelists 4. Click here to read the rest.