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Man Booker 2017: About Zadie Smith

4 September 2017

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Zadie Smith was offered a publishing deal for her first novel when she was just 21. Her latest book, Swing Time, is on the Man Booker 2017 longlist.

Who is she?

Zadie Smith is the author of Swing Time, one of the books on this year’s Man Booker 2017 longlist. Zadie was born in Willesden, London in 1975 to an English father and a Jamaican mother, and went to secondary school in Cricklewood. She was born ‘Sadie’, but changed her name when she was 14. After college she went to Cambridge University to study English Literature, and started writing her first novel, White Teeth. She was offered a major publishing deal when she was 21, and White Teeth was published when she was 25.

What does she write?

Zadie’s novels are best known for how they look at race, religion, and cultural identity, as well as for their eccentric characters, savvy humour, and snappy dialogue.

Swing Time, her latest novel, is about friendship, music and true identity, how they shape us throughout our lives.

Why should you read her books?

Lots of Zadie’s books, including Swing Time, are set in London and feature a wide range of characters, including children and young people. She’s also a big champion of libraries. Speaking on Radio 5 Live in 2012, Smith said that she owed her “whole life to books and libraries”.

“Libraries are vital to every society in every culture. They don’t discriminate. They don’t care if you are rich or poor, well read or can’t read a word.”

Where can you find out more?

Read an extract from Swing Time here
Listen to Zadie talk about reading, writing and dancing here
Watch Zadie being interviewed about what she was like as a teenager here

Get involved:

Tag @ReadingHackers on Twitter or Instagram with a short review of Swing Time, and you could win the whole Man Booker Prize shortlist. Use the hashtag #ManBooker2017.