Zadie Smith: Feel Free

I’ve had several books by Zadie Smith sitting on my TBR for a minor eternity; oddly, when the moment came to finally pick one of them, I didn’t select one of her novels but this collection of essays — which didn’t turn out to be a bad choice, however, as the essays included here did a good job in introducing me to Smith’s personal perspective on a wide variety of topics, “from Brexit to Beyoncé”, in the words of the Independent blurb reproduced on the back cover.  And it was the pieces where Smith’s own perspective and life experience manifests most directly that worked best for me: While I acknowledge, for example, that her art, book, movie and TV show reviews have a place in a collection such as this one, and of course her perspective on a show such as Key and Peele or on a movie such as Jordan Peele’s Get Out is necessarily different from mine and therefore of great interest to me — and yes, these passages did hold my close attention — the same is not equally true for each and every single review of hers included here; and I sometimes found myself wishing her reviews, well-written though they are, had been collected in a separate volume of their own.  So in part my rating may be an application of “it’s not you, book, it’s me”: The reason why I had picked this book was because I had wanted to meet the writer of On Beauty and White Teeth, and yes, I did get to meet her, just not as exclusively as I had been hoping.  (Though obviously the first three / four pieces, Smith’s review of Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia, and the final piece, Joy, are highly illuminating on that score, as are her repeated references ot Key and Peele and her views on cultural appropriation.)  So, obviously I’m still happy to have read this book, and I’m now even more curious about Smith’s fiction.


2 thoughts on “Zadie Smith: Feel Free

  1. On finishing Feel Free, I immediately got copies of White Teeth and The Buddha of Suburbia. I haven’t gotten to them, yet, other than reading the first chapter in Buddha, but both are in my near future.

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