15 Zadie Smith Quotes And Essays That Will Rock Your Life

Vote Zadie for best public intellectual.

You may know Zadie Smith as the virtuosic author of NW and White Teeth.

Via Kevin TS Tang

1. And the bravura reviewer of 50 Cent.

The best thing you can do is read her novels. The second best thing is to read her essays on anything.

2. She has a sense of humor about being a British writer.

From “This Is How It Feels To Me”:

3. And about book reviews.

From “The Difficult Gifts of David Foster Wallace”:

4. She’s wise to the perils of common sayings.

From “Speaking In Tongues”:

5. She knows minorities deserve more than “tolerance.”

Via “F. Kafka, Everyman”:

6. She interviewed Jay Z and knew his lyrics by heart.

Her interview wove Jay Z’s lyrics into hip-hop history, comparing him to the Oulipo writers. Dang, Zadie.

7. She sparred with the most feared English book critic and won the debate with grace.

After 9/11, The New Yorker’s James Wood told Zadie & Co. to abandon meaningless sophistication for more heartfelt prose. Smith’s response gracefully debunked Wood’s assumptions about books.

It wasn’t a bloodsport. It was a great conversation.

8. Zadie sent us dispatches from abroad —

One Week in Liberia”:

9. — and from alien planets.

Ten Notes From Oscar Weekend”:

10. She refuses to be pigeonholed.

11. She refused the deification of Steve Jobs.

From “Creativity As Refusal”:

12. She defended Obama’s code-switching.

Read her whole speech here. You’ll want to underline every other sentence.

13. She distilled much from David Foster Wallace.

While acknowledging that being distilled was the last thing he wanted. Read her eulogy for DFW.

14. Most of all, she parses the simple sugar of hedonism from the deeper joys.


15. In sum: Read her fiction. Read her essays. Read everything she ever writes.

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