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 (2000), 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 Channel 4 television for broadcast in autumn 2002, and for the stage in November 2018. 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 (2002), 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 (2009), Feel Free (2018) 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 (Penguin, February 14, 2023), based on Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath’s Tale premiered in the US at Boston's American Repertory Theater in February 2023. In 2021 she co-wrote a children's book with Nick Laird titled The Surprise, with illustrations by Magenta Fox. She is currently working on a novel titled The Fraud (Penguin Press, September 5, 2023).
Zadie Smith writes regularly for The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. In 2017 she was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters, and received the 2017 City College of New York’s Langston Hughes Medal. She is also the recipient of the 2021 St. Louis Literary Award. In 2022 she received the PEN/Audible Literary Service Award. In 2023 she was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Zadie Smith is currently a tenured professor of Creative Writing at New York University.
PEN America: Acclaimed Author Zadie Smith will Receive the Pen/Audible Literary Service Award May 23 (2022)
New York Times: Zadie Smith’s First Play Brings Chaucer to Her Beloved Northwest London (2021)
Los Angeles Times: Zadie Smith gets intimate in a searching collection of quarantine essays (2020)
Fresh Air: Zadie Smith Hopscotches From The Personal To The Political In 'Intimations' (2020)
San Francisco Chronicle: Review: Zadie Smith’s first story collection displays a writer at peak ability (2019)
Sydney Morning Herald: Zadie Smith dismisses the latest literary 'fad' (2019)
New York Times: Zadie Smith Experiments With Short Fiction (2019)
New York Times: From Justin Bieber to Martin Buber, Zadie Smith’s Essays Showcase Her Exuberance and Range (2018)
Guardian/Observer: Zadie Smith: ‘I have a very messy and chaotic mind’ (2018)
New Yorker: Zadie Smith on Tourists and Metaphors (2017)
Photo Ben Bailey-Smith