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On Beauty by Zadie Smith
On Beauty, Zadie Smith (White Teeth, The Autograph Man) has patterned her novel on E.M. Forster's Howards End. Set in contemporary times at an upscale university outside of Boston, her story revolves around two families, the Belseys and the Kippses. Howard Belsey is a white liberal academic and Rembrandt scholar with a black wife. Kiki, and three children. His long-time rival, Sir Montague Kipps, a Caribbean-born conservative, will also now teach at the same university. The oldest of the Belsey children, Jerome, falls in love with Kipps' daughter. Howard's life is further complicated when Kiki learns of an affair he's had with a colleague named Claire, his daughter falls for a young street rapper who takes a poetry course taught by Claire, his youngest son speaks only in gangsta rap, and Kiki strikes up a friendship with Kipps' invalid wife. On Beauty has received positive reviews with The Observer saying, "On Beauty confirms Smith as an outstanding novelist with a powerful understanding both of what the brain knows and of what love knows, especially when it comes to families."