Nobody would call Zadie Smith a minimalist. White Teeth was a 560-page comic epic, perfectly in tune with the sensory overload of 1990s multicultural London. My favourite, On Beauty, was her most tightly focused, but more recently she returned to dazzling readers in NW, an at times bewildering kaleidoscope of characters and forms.
Her books make me think of those living rooms with swirly wallpaper, a flowery sofa and ornaments on every surface (please note: I like those rooms). They are full of life, unafraid of mess, teetering on the edge of being too much. Smith has acknowledged something similar – she once described White Teeth as “the literary equivalent of a hyperactive, ginger-haired, tap-dancing ten-year-old”. That quotation came back to me as I read Swing Time, partly because it features tap-dancing children, but also because, although its author is now a formidable and mature artist, that girl hasn’t entirely gone away.