Feel Free by Zadie Smith
Essays

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Zadie Smith is definitely a hitchhiker. Her heart is in novel-writing. Thankfully, her intellect compensates. Feel Free, her new collection of essays, is filled with the sights and sounds of a highly intelligent writer thinking things through on the fly.
-Toronto Star

Synopsis

From Zadie Smith, one of the most beloved authors of her generation, a new collection of essays

Since she burst spectacularly into view with her debut novel almost two decades ago, Zadie Smith has established herself not just as one of the world's preeminent fiction writers, but also a brilliant and singular essayist. She contributes regularly to The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books on a range of subjects, and each piece of hers is a literary event in its own right.

Arranged into five sections--In the World, In the Audience, In the Gallery, On the Bookshelf, and Feel Free--this new collection poses questions we immediately recognize. What is The Social Network--and Facebook itself--really about? "It's a cruel portrait of us: 500 million sentient people entrapped in the recent careless thoughts of a Harvard sophomore." Why do we love libraries? "Well-run libraries are filled with people because what a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor public space in which you do not have to buy anything in order to stay." What will we tell our granddaughters about our collective failure to address global warming? "So I might say to her, look: the thing you have to appreciate is that we'd just been through a century of relativism and deconstruction, in which we were informed that most of our fondest-held principles were either uncertain or simple wishful thinking, and in many areas of our lives we had already been asked to accept that nothing is essential and everything changes--and this had taken the fight out of us somewhat."

Gathering in one place for the first time previously unpublished work, as well as already classic essays, such as, "Joy," and, "Find Your Beach," Feel Free offers a survey of important recent events in culture and politics, as well as Smith's own life. Equally at home in the world of good books and bad politics, Brooklyn-born rappers and the work of Swiss novelists, she is by turns wry, heartfelt, indignant, and incisive--and never any less than perfect company. This is literary journalism at its zenith.
 

About Zadie Smith

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ZADIE SMITH was born in Northwest London in 1975. She is the author of White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, and the essay collection Changing My Mind.
 
Published February 6, 2018 by Penguin Press. 464 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Feel Free
All: 7 | Positive: 7 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Excellent
on Nov 20 2017

Judiciously political, Smith wears her liberalism gracefully, though with qualifications. She is never less than a formidable intellect, with an imposing command of literary and artistic canons.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Amanda Fortini on Feb 21 2018

Smith is an appreciator of art, a connoisseur, rather than a stern critic. It’s rare that she writes about anything she dislikes. Indeed, if the book has a subtheme, it is joy, a feeling not often discussed outside of New Age circles.

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LA Times

Above average
Reviewed by Walton Muyumba on Feb 07 2018

Early in "Feel Free" Smith describes her writing as the intersection of language, the world, the self: "The first is never wholly mine; the second I can only ever know in a partial sense; the third is a malleable and improvised response to the previous two." It's this improvised Smith whom we're dancing with throughout these pages.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Tim Adams on Feb 06 2018

It’s a manifesto that makes you wonder, just from time to time, how her nonfiction would sound if she put her supple gifts of description and analysis to work more often in places other than galleries and libraries.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Alex Clark on Feb 03 2018

Over and again, Smith comes back to the gift of culture that fell into her lap when she was a child, but which she also had to find a way to assimilate into her life. Her essays hit on a truth about such a treasure trove...

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NPR

Good
Reviewed by Michael Schaub on Feb 06 2018

Reading Feel Free is a lot like hanging out with a friend who's just as at home in a museum as she is binge-watching a sitcom. She engages artists on their own terms; she's opinionated, but not judgmental.

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Toronto Star

Good
Reviewed by Nathan Whitlock on Feb 02 2018

Zadie Smith is definitely a hitchhiker. Her heart is in novel-writing. Thankfully, her intellect compensates. Feel Free, her new collection of essays, is filled with the sights and sounds of a highly intelligent writer thinking things through on the fly.

Read Full Review of Feel Free: Essays | See more reviews from Toronto Star

Reader Rating for Feel Free
80%

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