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Article  •  19 September 2023

 

An ultimate guide to Zadie Smith

Learn about Zadie Smith's incredible books. You're sure to find a new favourite on this list!

Zadie Smith, an award-winning British author from London, has enamoured readers for years – since her first novel, White Teeth, was published in 2000. Since then, Zadie has continued to impress and enthral readers with her wit, literary prowess, and incredible storytelling capabilities. Her writing style, unique and unforgettable, conjures deep reflection and entertainment at the same time – an incredible feat for any author. Whether you’re a new fan looking for a fresh read or a longtime follower of Zadie’s work wondering about her brand-new book, The Fraud, check out this ultimate author guide to all of her incredible books.

An ultimate guide to Zadie Smith

The Fraud Zadie Smith

Written in typical Zadie Smith fashion, The Fraud is a page-turning historical novel about Victorian England. More specifically, this entrancing new work follows the famed Tichborne Trial – a historic legal case that remains controversial, even to this day. Though Zadie’s novel focuses on this trial, and the turbulence surrounding it, The Fraud is, at its core, a novel about the rectification of two opposing realities: that of truth and fiction, fraudulence and authenticity, and the people that exist at the extremes of both. The perfect next read for anyone in search of a captivating historical novel with contemporary commentary, The Fraud strikes the perfect balance.

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The Wife of Willesden Zadie Smith

For Geoffrey Chaucer fans, The Wife of Willesden is the perfect contemporary translation of The Wife of Bath from The Canterbury Tales. Zadie Smith’s The Wife of Willesden offers a whip-smart reimagining of the age-old classic. Centred around sexual and gender politics – misogyny, femininity, and more – The Wife of Willesden is a dramatic and, at times, satirical take on the social politics of the Middle Ages – and how these constructs serve to inform modern life.

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Grand Union Zadie Smith

Lauded as one of the most notable books of 2019 by the New York Times Book Review, Grand Union is one of Zadie Smith’s best works to date. A combination of published pieces from The New Yorker and other critically acclaimed publications, and never-before-published essays, Grand Union is a magnetic collection of some of her best short stories. This incredibly varied grouping of fiction leaves no stone unturned – from writing about identity and rebirth to engaging in speculative satire, Grand Union is a dazzling kaleidoscope of social commentary, social comedy, and crippling stories of heartbreak and hope – all in the same book. Each story, so poignant in its own right, will remain with readers long after they’ve closed the book.

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Intimations Zadie Smith

A New York Times bestseller, Intimations is yet another example of Zadie Smith’s razor-sharp observations, criticisms, and questions about the world around us. Written in the early years of the Covid-19 pandemic, this collection of essays penetrates some of our most existential thoughts: Who are we without our communities? How do we compare suffering? How does compassion reveal itself in moments of tragedy? One of the most salient and pensive works to come out of isolation, Intimations sheds light on some of our most debilitating thoughts and anxieties and offers a thoughtful perspective and path forward through one of the most turbulent times in our history.

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Feel Free Zadie Smith

In typical Zadie Smith fashion, Feel Free delivers readers a deep dive into some of the most seemingly inconsequential facets of contemporary life, and the most consequential: Facebook, libraries, Justin Bieber, Key & Peele, and the impending doom of global warming. Thoughtful, curious, and incisive, Feel Free offers readers some of the freshest and most captivating observations about our world with enthralling prose, and literary mastery – an award-winning combination that will have readers both on the edge of their seats and at ease in her astute commentary. Unlike other works of literary criticism, Feel Free is profound but not smug, and equal parts enriching and humbling.

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Swing Time Zadie Smith

Another New York Times bestseller and Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction, Swing Time is both an equally exciting novel – with dynamic, robust characters and plot – as it is a silent observation of art, race, identity, and the power of inequality throughout time. Based on two childhood friends – Aimee and Tracey, two young brown girls in North West London – Swing Time follows each woman’s journey to becoming, and the sharp turns each takes, farther and farther away from one another. Deeply resonant, Zadie’s book is the perfect next read for anyone in search of their next novel – particularly one that expertly intertwines social commentary and a page-turning plot.

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NW Zadie Smith

A plot so deeply ingrained with the inner workings of the bustling urban chaos of London, Zadie Smith’s NW explores the lives of four distinct young adults on the road to growing up and the complexities of stretching their limits. Perfectly capturing the promise of big-city living, and the brutality of a concrete existence, Zadie invites readers into the richness of city life – the inequality, the history, the wide range of morals, and the understanding of truth and authenticity. Astute and entertaining, NW exposes some of the more hidden elements of our most seemingly vibrant lives with grace and true brilliance.

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Changing My Mind Zadie Smith

For readers of short essays and journalist deep-dives, Changing My Mind fits like a glove. Broken down into five sections – Reading, Being, Seeing, Feeling, and Remembering – Zadie Smith’s essay collection is yet another captivating assortment of her innermost thoughts, contemplations, and reflections. Drifting in and out of subjects with the ease of only the most prolific authors of our time, Zadie invites readers to consider topics like philosophy, the meaning of family, and the work of Katherine Hepburn. Artfully, Zadie identifies some of the most foundational elements of the cultural zeitgeist – as always – and affixes them to her astute observations.

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On Beauty Zadie Smith

On Beauty is an evergreen literary classic that’s amassed dozens of literary awards since its publication. A spellbinding novel about an interracial family living in the university town of Wellington, Massachusetts, On Beauty takes readers into the world of race, identity, and multiculturalism – over the course of generations. Detailing family dynamics, conversations about politics, class, marriage, and more, On Beauty, is a microcosm for the greater sociopolitical and economic systems at play, regardless of the generation. In typical Zadie Smith fashion, the novel is both uplifting and heartbreaking, both comedic and solemn, and is the ideal read for any fiction fan.

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The Autograph Man Zadie Smith

While particularly poignant in an era of social media fame and influencer success, The Autograph Man’s message cuts across generations. Based on the main character Alex-Li Tandem, Zadie’s effortlessly poignant novel follows the story of one man’s autograph business – a collection of signatures, both real and fake. Both light and existential in its thematic undertakings, The Autograph Man explores everything we know about fame and celebrity – and what success really means in an era of shallow victory. With stunning characters, and deep dives into our understanding of success The Autograph Man is a distinct commentary on all things we hold valuable.

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White Teeth Zadie Smith

Zadie’s blockbuster debut, White Teeth, is the novel that launched her into literary acclaim. Set amidst the backdrop of London – a city diverse in its racial, cultural, economic, and social makeup – White Teeth follows the friendship of two unlikely World War II veterans, Archie Jones and Samad Iqbal. An outstanding portrayal of the turbulence of life, and the people we find along our path, White Teeth tackles the most fundamental parts of our existence as human beings in one fell swoop: marriage, faith, spirituality, success, and disaster. For longtime readers of Zadie Smith and new fans of her work, White Teeth is a must-read and re-read.

 

Article by Rachel Ayotte, originally posted on penguinrandomhouse.com

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