Zadie Smith Archive

Reading Backwards

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Finally recognizing this pattern has led me to an unconventional idea: we should teach literary survey courses backwards. And those of us who are no longer in lit classes (or who have steered clear of them altogether) should read that way ourselves.

Where Zadie Smith’s “Getting In and Out” Misses the Mark

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Despite Smith’s powerful and undeniable ability to employ and maneuver language the way she does, “Getting In and Out” comes up short for two very vital reasons.

In Remembrance of Brian Doyle

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When the prolific author Brian Doyle passed away last month, American Letters lost not only a talented writer in Doyle, but also a waning parochial worldview.

The Weather We’re Having

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The calamity of weather disaster in literature offers more overt indications of those who are vulnerable and exposed. From Shakespeare’s encroaching storms to Richard Wright’s floods, from Zora Neale Hurston’s hurricane to Haruki Murakami’s quakes, we learn that we have to keep our eyes on the skies and our

Insights into Celebrity Humanitarianism from Zadie Smith’s SWING TIME

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It’s not novel for celebrities to dip their toes into humanitarian waters. Actor Danny Kaye was named the first UNICEF ambassador-at-large in 1954, a full two decades before Angelina Jolie was even born. The trope of the well-meaning but clueless celebrity do-gooder is so entrenched that it’s become easy

Stories Strangely Told: Zadie Smith’s “The Embassy of Cambodia”

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One of the ceaseless joys of narrative, however we try to contain it, is how it bursts through the walls of expectation. The drama's there too in language—its strict rules, its constant bend and flex toward newness.

Review: SWING TIME by Zadie Smith

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In a novel about history, about generations, reading Swing Time is like suddenly remembering a song you used to love.

Anything Goes: Storytelling in a Digital Age

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In the age of the Internet, fiction writing is changing yet again. As readers and writers, should we fear the use of technology in books? History says “no.”

Grief and Goodbye in Endings

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Octavia Butler said, “All good things must begin.” And lucky for us, they do. But “all good things must come to an end,” too.

Round-Up: The National Book Awards, Bob Dylan to Miss Nobel Ceremony, and Zadie Smith’s SWING TIME

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From the National Book Award winners to Zadie Smith’s newest novel, here are last week’s biggest literary headlines: The 67th annual National Book Awards ceremony took place November 16. The winners included Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad for fiction, Ibram X. Kendi’s Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of