Great quotes from White Teeth

“There are no words.  The one I sent home comes out a pukka Englishman, white-suited, silly wig lawyer.  The one I keep here is a fully paid-up green-bow-tie-wearing fundamentalist terrorist.  I sometimes wonder why I bother,” said Samad bitterly, betraying the English inflections of twenty years in the country, “I really do.  These days, it feels to me like you make a devil’s pact when you walk into this country.  You hand over your passport at the check-in, you get stamped, you want to make a little money, get yourself started…but you mean to go back!  Who would want to stay?  Cold, wet, miserable; terrible food, dreadful newspapers—who would want to stay?  In a place where you are never welcomed, only tolerated.  Just tolerated.  Like you are an animal finally housebroken.  Who would want to stay?  But you have made a devil’s pact…it drags you in and suddenly you are unsuitable to return, your children are unrecognizable, you belong nowhere.”

… “And then you begin to give up the very idea of belonging.  Suddenly this thing, this belonging, it seems like some long, dirty lie…and I begin to believe that birthplaces are accidents, that everything is an accident.  But if you believe that, where do you go?  What do you do?  What does anything matter?”


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