Feel Free, Zadie Smith 2018

Smith is one of our pre-eminent writers, equally productive and talented in fiction and essays.  This volume collects work from a number of wide-ranging sources (art show catalogues, introductions to books, etc) but primarily from The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, and the Guardian.

The essays are grouped into five sections: In the World (dealing with Brexit, the forced closing of public libraries in England, and other British issues), In the Audience (reviews of movies and TV shows some of which were totally unknown to me), In the Gallery (reviews of shows in galleries and museums), On the Bookshelf (book reviews), and Feel Free (random personal essays).  My favorites were her book reviews especially the one about Geoff Dyer.

This is a fine collection highlighting Smith’s critical eye for details, her ability to connect her subject matter to the wider world of art and literature, and a sensitive touch for many of the social ills we live with.  Reading it was like sitting across the table at a quiet Starbucks (if there’s such a thing!) and catching up with a good friend—what are you reading, what movies have you loved, what do you think about the latest political outrage????

If you don’t know her work, this is a good place to start.