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Kris Wilton
On Beautiful Writing: Zadie Smith Comes to Cambridge
By Kris Wilton

Zadie Smith (photo credit: Dominique Nabokov/Penguin Group)

September 18, 2012

This is a great month for literary fiction readings around town–the best in years, at least as far as memory serves. Harvard Book Store’s hosting Paul Auster September 17 and Junot Diaz September 26; Diaz also doing several other readings in the area this fall. Porter Square has newcomer Justin Torres reading from his powerhouse debut We the Animals on September 18. But I’m most excited about Zadie Smith, reading September 19 at the Cambridge Public Library’s main branch, in an event also organized by Porter Square Books.

Smith’s been a big name since her acclaimed 2000 debut White Teeth, and she gained attention around here after partially setting her next novel, On Beauty, in the area. A Gen X success story, Smith’s known for the rich portraits she paints of her native London and for prose that is funny, incisive, street-smart, polished, and unleashed, all at the same time. It’s this combination of smarts, sass, and sense of humor that’s so refreshing, and that makes her readings especially fun. (Also, it doesn’t hurt that she’s got a fabulous accent.)

Her newest novel, NW, released September 4, takes place in the working-class neighborhood of Kilburn, in North West London, where Smith grew up. The book follows four Londoners trying to find their way in the city and in life, taking on class, milieu, societal expectations, and the particular dislocation of finding yourself in a world very different from the one you grew up in. I can’t wait to hear her bring it to life.

Zadie Smith
Cambridge Public Library
September 19, 2012


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