SOAS University of London

SOAS academic’s research used in new Zadie Smith novel

24 November 2016
Marloes Janson book pic

A monograph by Dr Marloes Janson, Reader in West African Anthropology at SOAS University of London, has been used in Zadie Smith’s new novel Swing Time.

Whilst writing Swing Time, Zadie Smith studied Dr Janson’s work Islam, Youth, and Modernity in the Gambia: The Tablighi Jama'at for research. Smith also writes that the monograph provided much of the cultural underpinnings of the story, which helped her create the feel and texture of certain scenes in the novel. 

Islam, Youth, and Modernity in the Gambia: The Tablighi Jama'at is a study of how a transnational Islamic missionary movement that originated in India has spread, largely as a youth movement in the Gambia. It examines the way Gambian youths have adopted the movement to carve out a space for themselves in Gambian society in the absence of alternative means of reaching social maturity and a fulfilling life. The monograph was awarded the RAI Amaury Talbot prize for African Anthropology 2014.

Swing Time was published this month.

More information on Islam, Youth, and Modernity in the Gambia can be found here.