Zadie Smith

Read as Yourself: Ben Marcus on New American Fiction and the Art of the Anthology

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Later this month, Vintage Contemporaries will publish New American Stories, a richly variegated anthology of American short stories edited by Ben Marcus. The collection, which Marcus put together more as a playlist or mixtape than a “museum piece,” is a stirring arrangement that presents a strong case for the American short story as a vital, living thing. And, like unmediated life, it is uncategorizable.

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Chris Farley Joked, Kanye Rapped, and Shia LaBeouf Attempted Something in Between: Links You Need to See

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Chris Farley was known for his hilarious portrayals of the likes of an energetic motivational speaker, a Chippendale’s dancer, a lunch lady, Jerry Garcia, Meat Loaf and Newt Gingrich on SNL; he’s also known for having died — like SNL cast member John Belushi — at the young age of 33 of a drug overdose. A trailer for the new documentary I am Chris Farley has surfaced today, and the film seems to look deeper into the potentially destructive weight of sudden fame coupled with an insatiable desire to entertain (via the accounts of other comedians like Mike Meyers, Adam Adnsler, Bob Odenkirk, Bob Saget and David Spade).
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Zadie Smith and the Reinvention of the Diary

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Literature entails a private act that goes public — a novel or book of poems becomes a publication. So it’s an ideal place to locate certain anxieties about the self and its relation to the wider world. And what form of literature exacerbates these anxieties more than the diary? Recently, Zadie Smith, who is no stranger to expressing her anxieties to the public, wrote a short piece for Rookie called “Life Writing,” in which she explains her many failed attempts at diaristic …Read More

How Margaret Atwood and Zadie Smith Use Technology: An Excerpt From ‘Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors’

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Need a hit of inspiration? In Sarah Stodola‘s fascinating new book Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors, we see what drives genius. Whether it’s “autodidacts,” “nine-to-fivers,” or “slow and steady,” among others, Stodola takes an intimate and well-researched look inside the habits and traditions of 18 of your favorite writers (including David Foster Wallace, Virginia Woolf, Joan Didion, Toni Morrison, and George Orwell), habits that have led to the production of some of our greatest canonical works. Process goes on shelves (and online) January 20th.

Read an exclusive preview, which looks at Margaret Atwood and Zadie Smith’s very different approaches to technology and the Internet’s role their writing, below.
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15 Cultural Gifts for the Precocious Teen in Your Life

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Is there a teen in your life who you want to arm with gifts that will help him or her survive being a teen? Sure, kids these days are more Internet-savvy than ever, so the likelihood that you can serve as the cool aunt/uncle/cousin/older sibling who introduces someone to their favorite _______ has never been lower. But the holidays are for good-faith efforts, so here are some suggestions of books, movies, and albums today’s teens might be into, but aren’t yet. Worst-case scenario, you’ll give your teen the gift of feeling like they have better taste than you did at their age.
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50 Writers You Need to See Read Live

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Here’s a dirty little secret about books and liking books and the fact that people who are real-life people write books: more often than not, a book reading is deadly boring. A writer will read something that they’ve written and answer some questions, and it’s all very boilerplate. So it’s a pleasant surprise when a writer is dynamite in person, whether they’re reading their work or responding to questions with confidence and something like charisma. In the best live appearances, writers are able to cast a spell over the audience. Here are 50 authors who make that achievement look …Read More

Lena Dunham Emails Zadie Smith About Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj, Plus Other Revelations from the ‘Not That Kind of Girl’ Tour

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Last night, Lena Dunham brought her 12-city book tour behind Not That Kind of Girl back home with a variety show of quirk, feminism, and friendship for Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Unbound series. The 90-minute event moved quickly, starting with cat-driven stand-up from Mike Birbiglia and a three-song set from Jack Antonoff of fun. and Bleachers (familiar to Not That Kind of Girl readers in the role of good-guy boyfriend). Dunham read two pieces from her nonfiction collection — an essay about her younger sister, Grace, and one of the book’s humorous lists of gaffes — to the intimate crowd, which included her mother Laurie Simmons and actor Jon Glaser (Parks and Recreation) sitting in the front row. Then the show really began.
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50 of the Greatest Debut Novels Since 1950

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For a reader, there’s something magical about picking up a first novel — that promise of discovery, the possibility of finding a new writer whose work you can love for years to come, the likelihood of semi-autobiography for you to mull over. The debut is even more important for the writer — after all, you only get one first impression. Luckily, there are a lot of fantastic first impressions to be had. Click through for some of the greatest first novels written since 1950 — some that sparked great careers, some that are still the writers’ best work, and some that remain free-standing. …Read More