“Usually an essay comes when I’m playing hookey from novel writing,” she says. “Writing a novel is like doing a long-distance race, and writing an essay in the middle of one is like turning left off the route, finding a cafe and paying close attention to something different. It’s a form of relief.” They are also fundamentally different writing practices. “Fiction is messier. Essay is, for me, an attempt at a kind of clarity. I have a very messy and chaotic mind, but when I’m writing an essay I find I can exert a bit more control over it.”
To celebrate the publication of Zadie Smith’s new book of essays, Feel Free, we’re making her our Author of the Month for February. One of London’s most loved authors ever since her first novel, White Teeth, attracted wide acclaim and won several major prizes in 2000, Zadie’s books have become essential reading for many.
Her latest novel, Swing Time, has remained on our bestseller list for over a year. We can’t wait to devour Feel Free, a new collection of essays exploring everything from literature, film and music icons to social media, Brexit, Beyonce, Trump, Kafka and climate change.
Feel Free: Essays
No subject is too fringe or too mainstream for the unstoppable Zadie Smith. From social media to the environment, from Jay-Z to Karl Ove Knausgaard, she has boundless curiosity and the boundless wit to match. In Feel Free, pop culture, high culture, social change and political debate all get the Zadie Smith treatment, dissected with razor-sharp intellect, set brilliantly against the context of the utterly contemporary, and considered with a deep humanity and compassion.
This electrifying new collection showcases its author as a true literary powerhouse, demonstrating once again her credentials as an essential voice of her generation.
Published by Hamish Hamilton on 8th February 2018
Two brown girls dream of being dancers - but only one, Tracey, has talent. The other has ideas: about rhythm and time, black bodies and black music, what it means to belong, what it means to be free. It's a close but complicated childhood friendship that ends abruptly in their early twenties, never to be revisited, but never quite forgotten either.
Bursting with energy, rhythm and movement, Swing Time is Zadie Smith's most ambitious novel yet. It is a story about music and identity, race and class, those who follow the dance and those who lead it...
Published by Penguin on 6th July 2017
Zadie Smith's brilliant tragi-comic NW follows four Londoners - Leah, Natalie, Felix and Nathan - after they've left their childhood council estate, grown up and moved on to different lives. From private houses to public parks, at work and at play, their city is brutal, beautiful and complicated. Yet after a chance encounter they each find that the choices they've made, the people they once were and are now, can suddenly, rapidly unravel. A portrait of modern urban life, NW is funny, sad and urgent - as brimming with vitality as the city itself.