Z is for Zadie Smith

Z is for Zadie Smith

Born 1975
From the age of 5 to 15 Zadie Smith wanted to be an actress. She was pretty good at tap dancing and dreamt of starring in a musical. By the time she was in her mid teens she realised there were hardly any musicals being made and decided to part with that dream. And then writing happened.

She was born in London to a British father and Jamaican mother who migrated to Britain in 1969. She was christened Sadie Smith. At 14 she changed her name to Zadie. Interestingly a love for music runs in the family as two of her younger brothers are rappers.

Her debut

… was the stuff of fairy tales. At the University while studying English Literature she published a few short stories for a collection of new student writing called Mays Anthology. A publisher read those stories and offered her a contract for her first book, which made her go in search of a literary agent. Seems like a dream debut, doesn’t it? 
On the basis of a partial manuscript her book was auctioned among publishers. During her final year at Cambridge she finished her book, White Teeth. It was an runaway success. So overwhelmed was she that she went into a writer’s block. “I think (the success of this book is) a surprise which will last me my whole life,” she said in an interview. Her second book Autograph Man also proved to be a success.

White Teeth 

…began as a short story except it was hardly short, more of a Novella. And so she decided to expand it into a full sized novel. It spans three generations telling the story of two friends, World War II veterans Archie and Samad. It follows their lives and then of their children who pick varied paths in life. It touches upon issues of immigrants, war, religion and friendship. I liked the way the book jumps back and forth between England, Jamaica and Bangladesh bringing it all alive through vibrant descriptions.

On writing

…. Smith has rather interesting views. First, she doesn’t believe in creative writing classes. She dismisses them as ‘support groups for writers who find writing therapeutic’.  And writing’s no therapy, she feels. She advises extensive reading as the best way to become a writer. “The more people you read the better writer you become,” she says.
She likes to write in ‘any small room with no natural lighting’. She’s quite the rule breaker when it comes to a writing regime. Some days she writes all day and some days she cannot get beyond two hours. She hates being told about successful authors who follow specific regimes. 

Isn’t that heartening? Perhaps it IS okay to do things your own way and follow no one at all. So it doesn’t matter that Enid Blyton wrote 10,000 words a day in her ‘red’ room, or that Ian Fleming needed to get away to Jamaica each year to get that novel done, or that Dahl moved to his tiny shed away from the house. All one needs to do to become a writer is do things her own way and write from the heart.


And finally that’s The End! The April A to Z Challenge ends today and I really have no idea what I’ll do with myself. Looking forward to visiting all you lovely people now.

This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, 2014 for the theme AMAZING AUTHORS.

Also linking to the Ultimate Blog Challenge.

24 Replies to “Z is for Zadie Smith”

  1. I missed this one! I don't know how. But I'm now playing catch up. Will trawl through them all again to make sure I've covered them all. Look forward to more authors to share comments on and more authors to discover. Thanks for making April such an interesting month, Tulika!

  2. Yay OM!! Loved the series.. thanks !! hoping you'll continue to write about authors and books as and when you come across interesting ones πŸ™‚

  3. missed some of your posts …………
    have loved reading you posts….
    congratulations on completing the challenge…
    would love to be always connected with you

  4. It has been a wonderful journey with you, Tulika πŸ™‚ Loved reading about all the authors. Congratulations for completing the A-Z in style πŸ™‚

  5. Tulika immensely enjoyed your A-Z series. Interesting and informative, I've found some new authors and books and some teenage memories were refreshed in this journey with you!
    I have to catch up on few of your post but congrats on such a great job!

  6. Wow! I like her thoughts on writing. I so agree with that. But then each one functions differently. Like some perform better under pressure and some just buckle under it!!
    Loved your series and am going to come back to it time and again to tick off these highly recommended books and authors. Have already bought Bridget Jones Diary and To Kill a Mockingbird! πŸ™‚

  7. guess all writers have their own place and own interpretation about writing. Her views are indeed very different.
    I loved your series and got to know about so many writers that are new to me. Thank you for sharing these posts πŸ™‚

  8. Hi Ma'M, Congratulations !!!. The last one with Zadie Smith is something different from your other posts :-). Thanks for your continued support to my posts. Really appreciate that. Look forward to keeping in touch…

  9. I am a rule breaker too…hope I will be a truely a writer one day…This is a new blogger reading your post and it will definitely help me to move on…Thanks:)will have to read all your A-Y posts now πŸ™‚

  10. hey! That's a beautiful tribute to Zadie Smith and so glad to read bout her..gives fillip to writers like me with no creative writing training, something that bugs me.

  11. What lovely pearls of wisdom you leave us with! Writers just need to write, any which way they feel like. I am so happy to read this because there are quite a few emerging writers who swear by the rule of writing daily, whether one feels like or not. I can't write this way πŸ™‚

  12. That's a good write up on Zadie, and that's a grand way to finish the Challenge !! Thanks to you, I have a long list of new authors to check out, and a refreshing list of books to grab πŸ™‚

  13. And thank goodness it is okay to do things our own way – otherwise how on earth would we even dare to blog! Loved your series Tulika. I read every single post and enjoyed them all.

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