One of my all time favourite authors, and undeniably amazing, Zadie Smith has been a firm placeholder on my shelves for the past four years. I was enraptured by her book ‘On Beauty’ when I first read it, and now each year I am given the opportunity to study her at university because of my fantastic course.
But given the chunky size of her books, I understand that some people can be intimidated by her writing. It is different, sometimes difficult, but always pleasurable. So here are 8 reasons why you need to read Zadie Smith!
- She is changing the face of modernism.
Although she doesn’t call herself a modernist writer, Zadie Smith does owe a lot of her style to her modernist forefathers and foremothers. It is like reading a 21st century Virginia Woolf sometimes, but with an imaginative voice that is truly like no other. Her books never fail to amaze me with their ingenuity.
- She writes essays as well!
She never seems to stop writing! Her essays are jam packed with excitement and new ideas that she conveys with her witty prose.
- Her characters come from all over the place.
Every walk of life, every colour, every sexuality – Zadie Smith writes characters that feel so real that you could touch them. White Teeth in particular explores the way our society is made up of so many moving pieces that interact with each other.
- She’s funny!
Zadie Smith makes me laugh. Her narrative voice is often laced with sarcasm at the expense of her characters, and her prose is witty. You never quite know when the joke will land but when it does it will leave you in stitches.
- She covers a variety of social issues.
Zadie Smith does not shy away from issues that she sees in her contemporary world but also in history. It leaves her texts so relevant even 20 years on, and works like White Teeth (2000) ring just as prominently to our modern day than before.
- She is accessible
While some of her texts are slightly more experimental in form, I think her writing is always very accessible. She references pop culture, news, and celebrities that are common knowledge among the masses. Her texts are not just for stuffy academics but for everyone to read and see a tiny piece of themselves in her writing.
- Her debut novel was published when she was 25!
And it became a bestseller!
- She will be one of our period’s literary greats.
As someone who is studying English Literature at uni and has studied her twice now, it is clear that she will be firmly placed into our canon. The way her writing seems to memorize and freeze the current moment in prose will surely be a reason for her to be studied again and again.