Sarah Hepola

# 5 White Teeth

Brilliant young novelists, polyglot London, and thoughts on "the perfect woman"

part 5 of a 10-part series

I’ve written a lot these past few days, so I will just say this: Zadie Smith might be the perfect woman. At least that’s what I thought as I read “White Teeth,” one of those pyrotechnic multi-character novels about modern polyglot London. She was funny but deep, light but profound. And did you see that author’s photo? Pffft.

Zadie Smith was the first of the “brilliant young novelists” to be younger than me. No, I didn’t have any feelings about that [screams into pillow]. Twenty years later, I still get that “next-level” vibe when I dip into her words, most recently in the collection “Feel Free.” I read that book waiting for my high-lights to take at the salon, the big plastic egg of the dryer humming around my tin-foiled head as I read essays that were so finely observed, so elegantly rendered. “The perfect woman” is fantasy language. No one ever is. So let me say it this way. That imperfect woman sure did raise the bar.