Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays, By Zadie Smith

Portrait of the writer as a life lived

Those who love books will find it almost impossible not to love Zadie Smith's enthusiasm for reading and literature, too, and her interest in writers' lives.

She has chosen to reject the school of literary theory that obliterates the author. It matters to her that George Eliot's life changed in her forties: that change affected Eliot's work. ("When Dorothea truly becomes great ... it is because she has at last recognised the value of human experience.")

The importance of lived experience infuses Smith's assessment of EM Forster and Zora Neale Hurston; makes her essay on the "craft of writing" the truly entertaining and sensible piece of work it is; and causes her to "change her mind" about Good Night and Good Luck.