Zadie Smith: Swing Time - in conversation

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Taking inspiration from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, Zadie Smith’s Intimations is published on 28 July. The book features six personal essays by Smith, written in the early months of the Coronavirus pandemic lockdown in the United States.

In the summer of 2017 we welcomed Zadie Smith to the Southbank Centre to discuss her fifth, and most recent, novel, Swing Time. In conversation with our Head of Literature and Spoken Word, Ted Hodgkinson, the author reflected on fiction, friendship and capturing a changing world on the page; something she has very much done in Intimations.

Zadie Smith by southbankcentre


An essential writer for our times, Smith’s other novels include the multi-award-winning White Teeth (2000) and the Booker Prize shortlisted On Beauty (2005). In this fascinating discussion she talks candidly about the writing process as well as her fascination with time ('It's really the only subject for me') as a recurring motif within her work, and for the freedom it offers a writer.


I've enjoyed being an old white guy, a strange Jewish autograph collector, an old black American woman, a young hot black guy swimming in a pool in Boston. Which was always my issue with time, that I would only get to live once, as me. In the novels I get to be all those people, and presumably offend the representatives of all those people on earth.
Zadie Smith


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