Why Write?

November 17, 2011

Novelist Zadie Smith was born in North London in 1975 to an English father and a Jamaican mother. She read English at Cambridge, graduating in 1997.

Her acclaimed first novel, White Teeth (2000), is a vibrant portrait of contemporary multicultural London, told through the story of three ethnically diverse families. The book won a number of awards and prizes, including the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread First Novel Award, and the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best First Book). It also won two EMMA (BT Ethnic and Multicultural Media Awards) for Best Book/Novel and Best Female Media Newcomer, and was shortlisted for the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Author's Club First Novel Award. White Teeth has been translated into over twenty languages and was adapted for Channel 4 television for broadcast in autumn 2002.

zadie smithHer tenure as Writer in Residence at the Institute of Contemporary Arts resulted in the publication of an anthology of erotic stories entitled Piece of Flesh (2001). She also wrote the introduction for The Burned Children of America (2003), a collection of eighteen short stories by a new generation of young American writers.

Zadie Smith's second novel, The Autograph Man (2002), a story of loss, obsession and the nature of celebrity, won the 2003 Jewish Quarterly Literary Prize for Fiction. In 2003 she was nominated by Granta magazine as one of 20 'Best of Young British Novelists'.

Her third novel, On Beauty, was published in 2005, and won the 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction. She has also written a non-fiction book about writing - Fail Better (2006); and Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays (2009).

Zadie Smith became a tenured professor of fiction at New York University in 2010 and lives between New York City and London. Her latest novel is NW (2012), set in north west London.

Biography: http://literature.britishcouncil.org/zadie-smith