Zadie Smith biography

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Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith

How to pronounce Zadie Smith: zay-dee

Zadie Smith Biography

Zadie Smith was born in north-west London in 1975, and has lived there most of her life. She is the author of White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, NW, Embassy of Cambodia, one book of essays Changing My Mind, and editor of one anthology The Book of Other People.

White Teeth was her first novel and awarded the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread Prize for a first novel, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction, the Frankfurt eBook Award for Best Fiction Work and the Overall Commonwealth Writers Prize, among others. On Beauty was shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2005 and won The Orange Prize for Fiction 2006. She was previously a writer-in-residence at London's Institute of Contemporary Arts and a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

This biography was last updated on 02/07/2016.

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Interview

A Conversation with Zadie Smith about On Beauty

This is a novel based, both in plot and theme, on E. M. Forster's Howards End. How did you come to the idea of writing such a book? What is it that appeals to you about Forster's work? 

Forster represents one of the earliest loves of my reading life and the first intimations I ever had of the power and beauty of this funny, artificial little construction, the novel. I wanted to pay tribute to the influence he had on me as a teenager, and as it was a book about Beauty, I wanted the novel also to be a record of beautiful things I've loved—novels, pieces of music, certain human faces, paintings, and so on. But I actually think the points where On Beauty meets Howards End are the least interesting bits of the book for me. It was simply a way of writing inside a certain genre: the literary update. I was thinking of things like Graham Swift's As I lay Dying/Last Orders combo; Joyce using the structure of the Ulysses story; Helen Fielding using Pride and Prejudice—to mention three very disparate examples. 

It was a kind of scaffolding for me, but in the end the books only meet properly at two or three points. I suppose I still think of ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Zadie Smith at BookBrowse
NW jacket Changing My Mind jacket The Book of Other People jacket On Beauty jacket
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All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Zadie Smith but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

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    Leila Aboulela

    Leila Aboulela won the first Caine Prize for African Writing and is the author of many novels. Minaret was longlisted for the 2006 Orange Prize. The Translator was one of The New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year. ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    White Teeth

    Try:
    Minaret
    by Leila Aboulela

  • Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

    Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie was born in Nigeria in 1977. She is from Abba, in Anambra State, but grew up in the university town of Nsukka where she attended primary and secondary schools and briefly studied Medicine and ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    On Beauty

    Try:
    Americanah
    by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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