The Zadie Smith Novel You Might Have Missed

If the Litvinoffs are your kind of fictional family, the Belseys and the Kippses might be, too. An aging interracial couple living in a college town and duly playing their longstanding roles of professor and academic wife, Howard and Kiki Belsey are trapped in a swirl of resentments and sexual and professional frustrations. Across the pond, Monty and Carlene Kipps are black Londoners whose Christian conservatism belies their intellectual pretensions. Monty and Howard, both Rembrandt scholars, are archrivals and the indignation Howard experiences when his son goes abroad and lives with the Kippses grows exponentially worse when the Kippses move to the Belsey’s town. Taking on issues of race, class, body image, and the uses and abuses of political correctness, On Beauty is often darkly hilarious and always deeply smart.