A Conversation With Zadie Smith

As the author of “White Teeth,” “On Beauty” and other novels, Zadie Smith is one of Britain’s most significant writers. She joins us to talk about her newest effort, “Swing Time,” which follows two girls who dream of becoming dancers only to see their lives branch in dramatically different directions.

Zadie Smith on …

… the experience of looking back at her earliest work: 

“I think most of us if we had to look at our journals or the little short story we wrote when we were 21 we’d feel quite sick of our process. But of course what I wrote when I was 21 is on bookshelves all over the place so I’m confronted with it a lot. But as you get older maybe you also get a bit gentler towards your younger self. When I look at books from the past that I’ve written it’s not that I love them, I can’t say I love them. But I do think some variety of, I don’t know, like, ‘You go girl! That’s not bad.’ At 21 you’ve got a lot of energy. Perhaps it’s a bit overwritten, but I feel distant from it that I’m impressed in a distant way.”