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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Swing Time

1. At what point in SWING TIME did you realize the narrator’s name hadn’t been revealed? She is nameless throughout. Why do you think the author did this?

2. Similarly, what does this story gain from being told in first person, despite the narrator’s name never being revealed? What’s lost?

3. This book focuses heavily on female friendship. Why do you think Tracey and the narrator had such lasting effects on each other, even after they grew apart?

4. What is the significance of the title, SWING TIME?

5. The narrator’s mother and father are very different from Tracey’s parents. What do you think Smith is trying to explore with these many different models of motherhood and fatherhood?

6. Aimee is a favorite popstar of Tracey and the narrator’s as they are growing up. When we meet her years later, she is still performing, but also working to open a school in Africa. Why do think Aimee plays such an important role in both the narrator’s childhood and adulthood, and what is Smith trying to get at through her character’s words and actions?  

7. The book has a very powerful line: “You want to believe there are limits to what money can make happen, lines it can’t cross.” What is the significance behind each characters’ very different relationship to money?

8. Describe the epilogue. Based on what you’ve learned about each of the characters, what do you believe happens after the narrator sees Tracey dancing with her children?

9. The narrator of this story often lets other people’s lives and choices dictate where she goes in life. Can you pick out a few moments when she made decisions entirely on her own?

10. What’s one thing about the writing style of this book that surprised you? What themes stood out the most?

Swing Time
by Zadie Smith

  • Publication Date: September 5, 2017
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books
  • ISBN-10: 0143111647
  • ISBN-13: 9780143111641