Zadie Smith

Portrait Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith was born in London in 1975 and studied English literature at King’s College, Cambridge.

Her international breakthrough as a writer came with her debut novel »White Teeth« [2000]. The novel follows Englishman Archibald and the Bangladeshi Samad, who were once comrades in World War II. When they meet again in London thirty years later, their friendship picks up where it left off. Numerous minor characters inhabit the lively and humorous novel, whose themes range from marital problems to religious fanaticism and in which various immigrant groups as well as the English middle class are examined. »›White Teeth‹ is a light-hearted, fun-loving and above all: lovingly crafted literature«, declared the »WELT«. A number of other novels followed, including »On Beauty« [2005], which was nominated for the Booker Prize and was awarded the Orange Prize. The book tells the story of Howard Belsey, a liberal university lecturer who lives with his family in New England. He has only one enemy: Monty Kipps, also a university professor. Howard’s son falls in love with Kipps’ daughter, of all people. This is how the turbulent social comedy begins.

Since the beginning of her career, Zadie Smith has also been known to write essays, in which she shows herself to be an astute observer of current events. The most recently published anthology is »Intimations« [2020] and includes six short essays from the first months of the Covid-19 lockdown, in which Zadie Smith reflects on this hitherto unknown situation and explores the questions that arise from it. Topics include the relationship between time and work, the importance of others in isolation, and the issue of contempt and compassion in times of crisis. The »Guardian« has described Smith by saying that she »is a wonderful essayist; she’s a natural. She writes as she thinks, and she thinks crisply and exactly.« Zadie Smith’s first collection of stories, »Grand Union« [2019], was published in German translation in 2021. As different as the nineteen stories collected in it are, they are all characterized, like in her previous work, by a fondness for the absurd and an idiosyncratic sense of humor.

For her complete works, Zadie Smith received the »WELT« Literature Prize in 2016 and the Austrian State Prize for European Literature in 2018. She is a professor of creative writing at New York University and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The author lives in London.

Date: 2022