The New Essay by Zadie Smith

1 03 2018

Zadie Smith’s brilliance is on display in ‘Feel Free’

Upon opening “Feel Free,” Zadie Smith’s new essay collection, you’ll be surprised to learn that she doubts her literary talent, her critical acumen. I suppose that many literary writers are skeptical or anxious about their chosen profession. I know I am: though some invisible force compels us to create, we writers sometimes feel ourselves fraudulent intellectually, not knowing enough about anything to represent human experience or critique the arts successfully. Smith ought not be one of those writers though. Since 2000, Smith — London born and bred, now a New Yorker — has published six substantial, exceptional works of fiction (including the 2012 novel “NW,” a tour de force formally and stylistically) and an excellent work of nonfiction, “Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays” (2009).

Across her eighth book’s five parts — “In the World,” “In the Audience,” “In the Gallery,” “On the Bookshelf,” “Feel Free” — Smith has distributed a slew of essays, reviews (including a folio of “Harper’s” columns) and lectures written from 2009-17. Over the course of 435 pages, she covers Brexit and the waning British state; climate change; David Fincher, Facebook and internet 2.0; Billie Holiday; Joni Mitchell; Key & Peele; Schopenhauer, Charlie Kaufman and stop-motion animation; black beauty, black sorrow, oil painting and a horror movie about white liberals; the vagaries of lower-middle-class British life in the 1980s and ’90s; literary fiction and the discontinuous self; Justin Bieber, Jay-Z and joy.

Smith’s continuous stream of productivity, her topical range, the accolades laureling her books, her prodigious artistic abilities, should be evidence enough to assuage her fears about credibility. And yet, as Smith explains in the new collection’s foreword, her anxiety arises from believing she has “no real qualifications” to write as she does. “Not a philosopher or sociologist, not a real professor of literature or film, not a political scientist, professional music critic or trained journalist,” Smith thinks that her essays rest shakily on evidence that is “almost always intimate. I feel this — do you? I’m struck by this thought — are you?” She worries that her writing has “not a leg to stand on” because it’s born from “affective experience” and not argument. “All [the essays] have is their freedom. And the reader is likewise unusually free, because I have absolutely nothing over her, no authority.”

Read further @ LA Times





Writing Advice from Top Women Writers

7 12 2016

alcott

Inspirational writing advice from Louisa May Alcott and 26 other great women authors

Here is her advice for women writing, along with the words of 25 other female authors who paved the way in the world of literature.
Writers like Arundhati Roy, Alice Walker, Margaret Atwood, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Jhumpa Lahiri, Toni Morrison, Zadie Smith.

Read further @  The Telegraph





Writers’ Struggle with Internet-Addiction

12 09 2012

Shutting out a world of digital distraction

Nick Hornby, Dave Eggers and Zadie Smith are among a growing group of novelists who struggle with internet-addiction. Carl Wilkinson investigates the powerful effect of the web on the creative mind.

By Carl wilkinson

Tucked away in the acknowledgements at the back of her new novel NW, along with the names of friends, family, editors and publishers who have helped her, Zadie Smith thanks freedom and self-control “for creating the time”.

Every writer needs the freedom to be creative and the self-control to stick with a project until completion, but Smith has something rather more 21st century in mind: Freedom © and SelfControl© are computer applications that can be downloaded and configured to increase productivity by blocking access to the internet.

These two pieces of software originated in quite different places. Freedom was developed by Fred Stutzman, visiting assistant professor at the University of North Carolina’s School of Information and Library Science, and counts Nick Hornby, Dave Eggers and Naomi Klein among its users. Stutzman has also released Anti-Social, which blocks the social-media elements of the internet. SelfControl, meanwhile, was created in 2009 by American artist Steve Lambert, one of the people behind The New York Times Special Edition – a hoax copy of the paper published in November 2008.

It seems that Smith, Hornby, Eggers and the rest have taken to heart a comment made in 2010 by Jonathan Franzen, who famously wrote portions of The Corrections wearing a blindfold and earplugs to reduce disruptions: “It’s doubtful that anyone with an internet connection at his workplace is writing good fiction.” Clearly the distractions of YouTube cat videos, unsolicited tweets and the ping of an email arriving in your inbox are not conducive to writing an intricately structured 100,000-word novel.

Eight out of 10 people in Britain now have access to the internet and Ofcom’s Communications Market Report 2012, published in July, found that internet users in the UK now spend on average 24.6 hours per month online – more than double the amount of time spent online in January 2004. Meanwhile, internet access in the British workplace increased by 27 per cent between 2004 and 2008, from the equivalent of 5.9 million employees to 7.5 million, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Continue reading @ The Telegraph