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Cat in the Stax: Author Spotlight: Zadie Smith

As Falvey’s Cat in the Stax, Rebecca writes articles covering a broad range of topics, from academics to hobbies to random events. All the while highlighting how Falvey Library can enhance your Villanova experience!

Happy Wednesday, Wildcats, and welcome to a new segment I’m introducing into the Cat in a Stax Blog: Author Spotlight. I love to read, it’s probably one of my favorite pastimes. And as an English grad student, I’m constantly introduced to writers and texts I might not have otherwise have heard of, let alone read. I want to use this platform to expand your readership and hopefully help you discover some new interests in literature. Every month, one Cat in the Stax post will be dedicated to informing about and celebrating a  writer whose work is available at here at Falvey. Our very first featured author? Zadie Smith.

Photo by David Levenson/Getty Images

Zadie Smith is a British writer whose work includes novels, essays, and short stories. She was born in London, England on Oct. 27, 1975 to a Jamaican mother and an English father. She studied English Literature at Cambridge University and graduated with her B.A. in 1998. In 2010, she became a tenured professor of Creative Writing at New York University. For Smith, fiction is “a medium that must always allow itself . . . the possibility of expressing intimate and inconvenient truths.” She explores many of these truths in her work, which often ponder questions of race, religion, and cultural identity.

Her debut novel, White Teeth, was published in 2000. It explores a contemporary multicultural London through the lives of three different, but connected, families. The book was an immediate literary sensation and won many awards, including the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread First Novel Award, and the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best First Book). Her second book, titled The Autograph Man, examines loss, obsession, and the nature of fame. This book won the 2003 Jewish Quarterly Literary Prize for Fiction. It was also this same year that Granta magazine named Smith as one of 20 “Best of Young British Novelists” and published her short story Martha, Martha in their 2003 issue. On Beauty is Smith’s third novel (published in 2005), and tells the story of two families living in the fictional town of Wellington, Massachusetts. On Beauty won the 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction.

Smith is also the author of NW, a story focused on the friendship between two women in London that is tested by the trials and tribulations of adulthood, and Swing Time, which follows the lives of two aspiring dancers whose lives take drastically different turns. Smith’s most recent book, The Fraud, is set in Victorian London and based on the historical Tichborne Trial. The Fraud can be found on Falvey’s new Popular Reading Shelves.

Zadie Smith’s work includes essays and short stories as well. A collection of her short stories was published in 2019, titled Grand Union. She has three essay collections: Changing My MindFeel Free, and Intimations. Smith also wrote a play called The Wife of Willesden, a reimagining of Geoffrey Chaucer’s Wife of Bath’s Tale from his Canterbury Tales.

If you’re looking to read something different that will make you think, definitely check out this incredible and prolific writer!

Rebecca Amrick

Rebecca Amrick is a first year graduate student in the English Department and a Graduate Assistant at Falvey Library.

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Last Modified: February 21, 2024

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