Inspiring Thursday: Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith is a writer and essayist born in 1975, who has gained endless recognition for her works, which have been praised for her “New Sincerity”, a literary genre that alongside the “Hysterical Realism” has come to define her signature style.

Through her unconventional writing we get to know characters that deal with experiences of identity, migration and womanhood. Just to go through some of her most successful works, “White Teeth” – her first book to be published and an immediately a best-seller – features as the main characters the Bangladeshi community of London, in “The Authograph Man” we read the story of a Jewish Chinese Londoner and in “Swing Time” the nameless protagonist and her best friend Tracy share African roots.

The writer changed her name from Sadie to Zadie at 14 years old simply because “it sounded more exotic”, as being “exotic” is not something to be ashamed of. Being “exotic” is a trait she must have been attributed to if we consider her mixed-race descendance, with her father being English and her mother a Jamaican. What she continuously does with her books is representing underrepresented communities, but this happens in a nuanced and complex way. Having herself lived in London, and having lived in a multicultural environment, Smith’s interest – beyond paying homage to traditions and non-western cultures – is also showing all the nice things that can happen if cultures come together without stereotyping one another: “I just wanted to show that there are communities that function well. There’s sadness for the way tradition is fading away but I wanted to show people making an effort to understand each other, despite their cultural differences”.

Something similar happens with her female characters. Not only are those females inspirational, because of the decisional power and independence they show to have, but they are also multi-faceted in their individuality as well as in their relationships. Female sisterhood is predominant and explored in all its highs and lows. Sometimes those characters grow apart, but are always thankful for what they have learnt from other women.

We are so inspired by Zadie Smith’s talent and her inclusive novels, where young, old, black, white, rich, poor, male, female all have a voice.

Written by WAVE intern: Fabiola Adamo


Karen Karbiene, George Stade “Encyclopedia of British Writer, 1800 to the Present”, Volume 2

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