Novelist Zadie Smith was born in North London in 1975 to an English father and a Jamaican mother. She read English at Cambridge, before graduating in 1997.
Her acclaimed first novel, White Teeth, is a vibrant portrait of contemporary multicultural London, told through the stories of three ethnically diverse families. The book won a number of awards and prizes, including the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread First Novel Award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best First Book), and two BT Ethnic and Multicultural Media Awards (Best Book/Novel and Best Female Media Newcomer). It was also shortlisted for the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the Orange Prize for Fiction, and the Author's Club First Novel Award. White Teeth has been translated into over twenty languages and was adapted for both television and the stage. In 2020 the New York Public Library voted White Teeth one of the 125 most important books of the last 125 years.
Zadie Smith's The Autograph Man, a story of loss, obsession and the nature of celebrity, won the 2003 Jewish Quarterly Wingate Literary Prize for Fiction. In 2003 and 2013 she was named by Granta magazine as one of 20 'Best of Young British Novelists'. On Beauty won the 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction and her novel NW was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize and the Women’s Prize for Fiction and was named as one of The New York Times 10 Best Books of 2012. NW was also made into a television film by the BBC in 2016. Her novel Swing Time was a New York Times bestseller. She has published three collections of essays, Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays, Feel Free, which received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism, and Intimations which was chosen as one of Oprah's Best Books of 2020. Her collection of short stories, Grand Union, was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal. Her play The Wife of Willesden received the 2022 Critics’ Circle Theatre Award for Most Promising Playwright. In 2021 she co-wrote a children's book with Nick Laird titled The Surprise, with illustrations by Magenta Fox. Her new novel, The Fraud, is historical fiction based on Victorian England's notorious Tichborne Trial. An immediate bestseller, The Fraud was named one of The 10 Best Books of 2023 by the New York Times, and a Best Book of 2023 by both the New Yorker and Publishers Weekly.
Zadie Smith writes regularly for The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. She has received many honors including the City College of New York’s Langston Hughes Medal, the St. Louis Literary Award, the PEN/Audible Literary Service Award, and the Bodley Medal. She is a member of the Royal Society of Literature, a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters and has been elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Zadie Smith is currently a tenured professor of Creative Writing at New York University.
Photo Ben Bailey-Smith