Heads Up: 'NW'
Smith and the city: Zadie returns to the lives of Londoners
What are we talking about? The new novel by Zadie Smith, a "quietly devastating" tragi-comic story following four Londoners as they try to make their adult lives work in the city, beyond the council estate where they grew up together.
Elevator pitch Smith and the city: Zadie returns to her 'hood.
Prime mover Zadie Smith. Her fourth novel, NW has been eagerly awaited – it's seven years since her last, On Beauty (though she did have a child, become an NYU professor, and publish a collection of essays, Changing My Mind, in that time – not bad going really). The 36-year-old British author won the Somerset Maugham Award and the Orange Prize for On Beauty, while her debut White Teeth was nominated for every "first novel" award going (and won quite a few).
The early buzz The New Yorker, on publishing an extract, wrote that "the driving forces of this story are class, sex, and education". The website TheMillions.com observed that Smith "has variously called this a novel of class and a 'very, very small book'", before observing that such a description was, in fact, "highly unlikely". The Guardian has already hailed it "a triumph": "the complex topography of modern London is explored in a dazzling portrait of aspiration and apathy, change and continuity, the social and personal barriers between people… As Smith threads together her characters' inner and outer worlds, every sentence sings."
Insider knowledge Smith took inspiration from another great female novelist who hymned our capital: Virginia Woolf. At BookExpo America Smith said in an interview that Woolf "kept her going", as a "good example of a forward-thinking and yet consistently humane writer, and just a great female modernist. An old inspiration returned to me at the right moment."
It's great that… NW looks set to be a personal response to place: much of the novel is set in Kilburn, north-west London, where Smith herself grew up, and still lives today (when not in New York, that is).
It's a shame that… she's already been passed over for the Booker Prize, with NW not even making the long list, an omission which has baffled some commentators.
Hit potential Bankable. She's considered both a hip young writer and part of the literary establishment these days, and appetites are whetted after the lengthy wait. Plus, we're all a little bit in love with London this summer…
The details NW is published by Hamish Hamilton, on 6 September.
tv Review: Miranda Hart and co deliver the festive goods
tvReview: Older generation get hot under the collar this Christmas
comedy Erm...he seems to be back
tvReview: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
tv Gymnast Louis Smith triumphed in the Christmas special
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Exclusive: Abusers using spyware apps to monitor partners reaches 'epidemic proportions'
- 2 Margaret Thatcher 'expressed fears of Asian rising' at Anglo-Irish summit in 1984
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 Sussex couple die in suspected Christmas Day 'suicide pact'
- 5 The Unluckiest People of the Year 2014 (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Downton Abbey Christmas special 2014, review: Love is everywhere, actually
The Boy in the Dress, TV review: David Walliams' Boxing Day treat is a celebration of being different
Vagina canoe artist defends herself over ‘obscenity’ charges
Doctor Who Christmas special, review: No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa
The Interview film review: Controversial gross-out satire is broad, bawdy and bad - but undeniably entertaining
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
BBC director Danny Cohen: Rising UK antisemitism makes me feel more uncomfortable than ever