White Teeth, a 2000 novel by Zadie Smith, chronicles the lives of two World War II veterans and their families in late twentieth-century London. Samad Iqbal is an intelligent and voluble but underemployed waiter, and Archie Jones is a laconic and indecisive everyman, but they are drawn together by their shared experiences in the war, similar family situations, and mutual need for a balancing influence.When Samad's son Millat, Archie's daughter Irie, and Joshua Chalfen are accused of using drugs on school property, Joshua's intellectual parents decide to be an uplifting influence on the poor working class children. Joyce Chalfen aspires to become a mother figure to the Troubled, but Cute Millat, while Marcus Chalfen decides that Irie Jones and Millat's more studious twin Magid can be of assistance in a controversial experiment he is conducting.As the three families become involved with religious fanatics, political intrigues and ethical dilemmas, it becomes apparent that the fate of a singlemouse may rest in their hands.
The novel suggests he grows out of the dorkiness, and possibly slims down too... but having been that kid is still informing who he is...
Also Irie; whose weight (thirteen stone), buck teeth, glasses and unmanageable afro are major factors in her poor self-image is played by Sarah Ozeke who has none of these traits other than wearing glasses in some scenes.
A Date with Rosie Palms: this is cause for serious angst for the semi-devout Muslim Samad Iqbal, since it is against his religion, but he uses a loophole to justify his transgression: the actual instruction from the imam to mind his 'right hand', seemingly forgetting that Samad's right hand is mostly paralysed. So he uses his left.
As a teenager, Clara is riding on a motorscooter with Ryan when it crashes into a tree. Ryan is thrown safely clear, but Clara's face hits the trunk squarely and all her teeth are knocked out. She is forced to wear false teeth for the rest of her life - and, while as an adult she speaks the Queen's English when her teeth are in, she reverts to the crude Jamaican patois of her youth when the teeth are out.
But Not Too Black: In-universe- Irie (who is mixed-race) is hugely hung up about her Jamaican hair and typically curvaceous figure, wishing she could have sleek hair and a willowy body like she perceives all the Caucasian girls at school do.
Millat is a voracious devourer of American pop culture (the films of Martin Scorsese in particular), and feels a great deal of guilt because of this. In fact, at one point he reflects that, in some ways, he's more American than he is either British or Bengali.
Evilutionary Biologist: In universe, several characters consider Marcus Chalfen to be this, although 'Dr. Sick' is better example.
Hollywood Jehovah's Witness: Archie's wife Clara was raised in a very strict Jehovah's Witness family. This becomes important later when her mother, her ex-boyfriend and a group of JW's protest Marcus Chalfen's experiment.
Hoist by His Own Petard: After joining a street gang, Millat burns a copy of The Satanic Verses at a book-burning on the evening news. After seeing this on television, his mother decides to teach him a lesson by burning not only his books, but also his records and videotapes.
Despite being a Nazi collaborator, Dr. Marc-Pierre Perret becomes a respected biologist in his later years (with a Jewish protege for added irony). Very much Truth in Television, actually.
Millat gets off with a mere slap on the wrist for trying to assassinate Dr. Perret (although this is largely because so many eyewitnesses mistake him for Magid and vice versa). He also inexplicably survives a sexual encounter with an HIV-positive girl despite not using a condom (this being during a time when getting AIDS was practically an instant death sentence).
May-December Romance: When they are both forty-eight, Archie and Samad marry nineteen year-old Clara Bowden and Alsana Begum. While the trope is played straight for Archie and Clara, Samad's marriage to Alsana was arranged sometime before 1945. When he was only eighteen and a decade before she was born.
Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The Raggastani gang lifestyle consists of wearing "hip-hop" clothes, smoking marijuana, using vulgar Bengali terms, and watching kung-fu movies.
Noble Bigot: Alsana, who looks down upon anyone who is not Bengali, but still admits that there are things about other ethnicities she does find admirable. She also has a grudgingly friendly relationship with her lesbian niece.
Clara's actual grandpa is a white man with a confused and ultimately destructive attitude to black women- it seems he loved Ambrosia but his ingrained colonial attitudes meant the relationship could only leave her hurt.
Sophisticated as Hell: Irie, who in one scene uses the words "fucking" and "proletariat" in two consecutive sentences. ("That girl," clucks her mother. "Swallowed a dictionary and a gutter at the same time.")
You Keep Using That Word: Both in- and out-of-universe with the term "Aryan." Smith uses it to denote both the olive-skinned Eurasian peoples who colonized India thousands of years ago and the more contemporary sense of the pink-skinned peoples who populate Europe, Australia, and much of the Americas today. This gets lampshaded when Samad scolds Alsana for acting too "Western" and she responds by pulling out an encyclopedia entry on Bangladesh that confirms that Bengalis are an Indo-Aryan people, and thus Western in the first place.