Saturday, October 22, 2005

Zadie Smith On Beauty

This afternoon I attended the International Festival of Authors and saw Zadie Smith interviewed by Globe columnist Rebecca Caldwell. I previously blogged about my love for Smith's latest novel, On Beauty, and the interview didn't disappoint.

As much of the book takes place on a university campus (a reflection on Smith's recent nine month stint as a professor at Harvard) she talked about the study of literature at university. A most appropriate topic for me as I am currently buried in my Ph.D in said subject.

She pointed out how we never discuss the affective experience of reading a poem or novel in the classroom - that we ridicule this and try to be bigger or smarter than the work. Smith said that writing, for her, was an accidental, meandering experience and thus, some questions about specific areas of her work she felt she couldn't answer with much authority. It was refreshing to hear a writer say this, and her interview was honest and thoughtful. She was even patient with the ridiculous questions - much more so than I would have been.

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