Changing My Mind, By Zadie Smith

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The Independent Culture

This choice of her occasional essays displays the best of Smith as critic, memoirist and all-round wrangler with arts and ideas. She emerges as thoughtful but never pompous, agile but never glib, witty but never cruel, with heart and head sweetly aligned.

A bran-tub stuffed with sweets, the collection ranges from ebullient interpretations of favourite classics (EM Forster to David Foster Wallace) and heartfelt but delightful family memoirs to the odd travel piece (from Liberian poverty to Hollywood excess) - even a sheaf of high-spirited film reviews.

Among the stand-out performances are a trio of lovely, elegiac pieces on her dad Harvey, D-Day veteran and Tony Hancock fan, and (related) excursions into the bittersweet art of comedy as a sort of British cultural DNA.