Zadie Smith: Wikis


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Zadie Smith
Born 25 October 1975 (1975-10-25) (age 34)
Brent, London, England
Occupation Novelist, essayist
Nationality English
Period 2000-present
Literary movement realism, postmodernism

Zadie Smith (born 25 October 1975)[1] is an English novelist. To date she has written three novels. In 2003, she was included on Granta's list of 20 best young authors.[2]



Early life

Zadie Smith was born Sadie Smith in the northwest London borough of Brent – a largely working-class area – to a Jamaican mother, Yvonne Bailey, and an English father, Harvey Smith. Her mother had grown up in Jamaica and immigrated to England in 1969. Their marriage was her father's second. She has a half-sister, a half-brother, and two younger brothers, one of whom is the rapper and stand-up comedian Doc Brown and the other is rapper Luc Skyz. As a child she was fond of tap dancing; as a teenager she considered a career as an actress in musical theatre; and as a university student she earned money as a jazz singer and wanted to become a journalist.

Her parents divorced when she was a teenager. When she was 14, she changed her name to "Zadie." Despite earlier ambitions, literature emerged as her principal interest and would provide a model for her future career.

Education and career

Smith attended the local state schools, Malorees Junior School and Hampstead Comprehensive School, and King's College, Cambridge University where she studied English literature. In an interview with the Guardian in 2000, Smith was keen to correct a recent newspaper assertion that she left Cambridge with a double First. "Actually, I got a Third in my Part Ones", she said. At Cambridge she published a number of short stories in a collection of student writing (see Short stories) called the May Anthologies. These attracted the attention of a publisher who offered her a contract for her first novel. Smith decided to contact a literary agent and was taken on by the Wylie Agency on the basis of little more than a first chapter.

Zadie Smith seems to have been rejected for a place in the Cambridge Footlights by the popular British comedy double act Mitchell and Webb, whilst all three were studying at Cambridge University in the 1990s.[3]

White Teeth was introduced to the publishing world in 1997, long before it was completed. On the basis of a partial manuscript an auction among different publishers for the rights started, with Hamish Hamilton being successful. Smith completed White Teeth during her final year at Cambridge. Published in 2000, the novel became a bestseller immediately. It was praised internationally and won a number of awards (see Novels). The novel was adapted for television in 2002 by Channel 4. She also served as "writer in residence" at the ICA in London and subsequently published as editor an anthology of sex writing, Piece of Flesh, as the culmination of this role.

In interviews she reported that the hype surrounding her first novel had caused her to suffer a short spell of writer's block. Nevertheless, her second novel, The Autograph Man, was published in 2002 and was a commercial success, although the critical response was not as close to unanimously positive as it had been to White Teeth.

After the publication of The Autograph Man, Smith visited the United States as a 2002–2003 Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Fellow at Harvard University.[4] She started work on a still unreleased book of essays, The Morality of the Novel, aka 'Fail Better', in which she considers a selection of 20th century writers through the lens of moral philosophy. Some portions of this book presumably are included in the essay collection Changing My Mind, published in November of 2009.

The second novel was followed by another, On Beauty, published in September 2005 and which is set largely in and around Greater Boston and which attracted more acclaim. This third novel was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and won the 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction.

In December 2008 she guest edited the BBC Radio 4 Today programme [5].

While currently teaching fiction at Columbia University School of the Arts, she will be joining New York University as a tenured professor of fiction as of September 1, 2010.

Private life

Smith met Nick Laird at Cambridge University. They married in 2004 in the Chapel of King's College, Cambridge. Smith dedicated On Beauty to "my dear Laird." The couple lived in Monti, Rome, Italy from November 2006–2007 and are now based between New York City and Queen's Park, London. [6] They have a daughter, Katherine, born late 2009 [7]


Short stories


Edited Collections




  • Tew, Philip. Zadie Smith. London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.
  • Walters, Tracey (Ed.). Zadie Smith: Critical Essays. New York: Peter Lang Publications, 2008.

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The more blessed she felt on earth, the more rarely she turned to heaven.

Zadie Smith (born October 27, 1975) is a British novelist. To date she has written three novels, mainly set in London.



"Most literary prizes are only nominally about literature. They are really about brand consolidation for beer companies, phone companies, coffee companies and even frozen food companies." -- A blog signed by Zadie Smith


White Teeth (2000)

  • The more blessed she felt on earth, the more rarely she turned to heaven.
  • You hear girls in the toilets of clubs saying, 'Yeah, he fucked off and left me. He just couldn't deal with love. He was too fucked up to know how to love me.' Now how did that happen? What was it about this unlovable century that convinced us we were, despite everything, eminently lovable as a people, as a species? What made us think that anyone who fails to love us is damaged, lacking, malfunctioning in some way? And particularly if they replace us with a god, or a weeping madonna, or the face of Christ in a ciabatta roll--then we call them crazy. Deluded. Regressive. We are so convinced of the goodness of ourselves, and the goodness of our love, we cannot bear to believe that their might be something more worthy of love than us, more worthy of worship. Greeting cards routinely tell us everybody deserves love. No. Everybody deserves clean water. Not everybody deserves love all the time.
  • His mind was a small thing with big holes through which passions regularly seeped out.
  • The thinnest covering of luck was on him like fresh dew. While he slipped in and out of consciousness , the position of the planets, the music of the spheres, the flap of a tiger moth's diaphanous wings in Central Africa, and a whole bunch of other stuff that makes shit happen had decided it was second-chance time for Archie.
  • This is what divorce is: Taking things you no longer want from people you no longer love.
  • Ryan's freckles were a join-the-dot's enthusiast's wet dream.
  • ..and the devil won another easy hand in God's poker game.
  • ... dressed all in yellow spreading warmth and the promise of sex.
  • ... and catholics give out forgiveness at the same time politicians give out promises and whores give out.
  • Is there anything more likely to take the shine off an affair that when the lover strikes up a convivial relationship with the lovee's mother.
  • A past tense, future perfect kind of night.
  • But why do they always have to be laughing and making a song-and-dance about everything? I cannot believe homosexuality is that much fun. Heterosexuality certainly is not.
  • He talked and talked, the kind of talking you do to stave off the inevitable physical desire. The kind of talk that only increases it.
  • Revelation is where all crazy people end up. It's the last stop on the nutso express.
  • Because this is the other thing about immigrants: they cannot escape their history any more than you yourself can lose your shadow.

The Autograph Man (2002)

  • His death is like the soft down on the back of your hand, passing unnoticed in the firmest of handshakes, though the slightest breeze makes every damn one of the tiny hairs stand on end.

On Beauty (2005)

  • The greatest lie ever told about love is that it sets you free.
    • Unspecified edition, p. 424
  • A carefully preserved English accent also upped the fear factor.
    • Unspecified edition, p. 155
  • It was in the shady groves of dictionaries that Jack fell in love.
    • Unspecified edition, p. 54
  • You don't have favorites among your children but you do have allies.
    • Unspecified edition, p. 167
  • He traced the genealogy of the feeling
    • Unspecified edition, p. 179
  • He was bookish, she was not; he was theoretical, she political. She called a rose a rose. He called it an accumulation of cultural and biological contructions circulating around the mutually attracting binary poles of nature/artifice.
    • Unspecified edition, p. 225
  • In a whisper he began begging for—and, as the sun set, received—the concession people always beg for: a little more time.
    • Unspecified edition, p. 398

External links

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