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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith thinks most literary prizes are “only nominally” about literature.

They are really about brand consolidation for beer companies, phone companies, coffee companies and even frozen food companies, she said on the website of the Willesden Herald.

You might have a point there, Zadie. After deciding not to award a prize in this year’s short-story competition, the author said:

Just because this prize has the words Willesden and Zadie hovering by it, does not mean that I or the other judges want to read hundreds of jolly stories of multicultural life on the streets of north London.

2 Responses to “Zadie Smith”

  1. Austin Kaluba says:

    I find Zadie Smith’s comment very arrogant and cheap. One could tell from her know-it-all stance that success has gone to her head. One needs to consider her lukewarm acceptance of another talented writer Monica Ali, the author of Brick Lane, to understand that our ‘literary genius’ does not want to have other writers being awarded literary prizes that she has won. It is shameful and common in all arts. Isn’t it Art Garfunkel, the one time partner of the legendary Simon and Garfunkel who called one of the best albums of the 20th century, Graceland ‘trash’ just because of her rivalry with Paul Simon. The literary critics should intervene and call for a fresh review of the short stories that were entered and I am sure they will find some deserving writer to give the award. We should not listen to one person.

    jb says: Interesting response, Austin. Not sure that I agree entirely, even though I have not enjoyed Zadie Smith’s novels so far. And I doubt that Art Garfunkel would be too impressed by having his gender twisted (though you never know).

  2. Shawn says:

    Well, that quote of hers has already made it on her Wikipedia entry. I enjoyed Zadie Smith’s White Teeth, but I don’t know if I’d call it great. As for the contest, I actually think it’s refreshing to set a standard of quality (I’m assuming this was the case) and stick to it even if it means that no winner is selected.

    However, I must disclose that I think Zadie Smith is absolutely gorgeous and I have been known to have my judgment muddled by such factors.

    As someone who detests Paul Simon, I have to agree with Art Garfunkel about Graceland–regardless of what gender he may be these days.

    jb says: I also suspect that most literary prizes are ‘political’, and wonder how much good they do for art. Their value to commerce, I assume, is quantifiable, otherwise there would be no sponsors. My one ‘worry’ about all this is how Zadie justifies her own acceptance of the prizes she’s garnered.