Product detail

Feel Free: Essays

Feel Free: Essays

Author: Zadie Smith
$40.00(NZD)  inc GST
Available Stock: 1

Zadie Smith’s collection of essays covers several years, from 2010 to early 2017. Most of that time she is based in America, with small forays back to England to visit family and attend speaking events. As such she is a British subject looking from the outside and an outsider looking within. This makes for an interesting perspective of American and British politics and culture. The first essay rests easily in her home neighbourhood and decries the closing of the public library and the rise of private, over public, space. She’s visiting North-West London with her daughter - a witness to the unravelling of community. In several other essays she draws on her childhood in London and her family’s cultural background to add richness to her arguments and musings. The essays are observations of a time and place that sometimes feels like ancient history, although many are just a few years ago: these are the years of the Obama administration in America, and Theresa May is yet to appear on anyone’s radar. Brexit is in its infancy - a situation that Smith sees from afar, yet she already has a nuanced view. It is her essay about FaceBook, 'Generation Why?'  - written in 2010 - which strikes home so succinctly, especially in light of the current Cambridge Analytica saga. Her focus isn’t so much about privacy issues - this is part and parcel of social media - but is an analytical breakdown of what FaceBook is, who Mark Zuckerberg is or represents, and the weirdly successful platform, so that once you read Smith’s essay you will be thinking about reaching for the disconnect button (if you haven’t already) or at least being aware of the strange, almost cult-like, philosophy that underpins FaceBook. The essays are divided into several clusters that cover politics, media, art and writing. While some of the essays refer to entertainment (television programmes), art or music that might be foreign to the reader, Smith is adept at contextualising these aspects into a broader discussion of race, cultural practice or social issues which help to bind the varied topics. And yet her essays are exceptionally personal: observations that can only come from her own experiences, her own world-view and where she stands in the world right now (or at the time of writing). Feel Free is an opportunity for Zadie Smith to explore - to mine her wealth of ideas - without the constraints of the novel form. The most successful explorations are areas where Smith is well-versed - in the writing section the essays about Ballard and Kureshi stand out - or has a layered personal history to draw from. Her essays on culture, race and social stratification (common themes in her novels) leave you with the most to think about.  



"Brilliant...[Smith's] new book is lively, intelligent and frequently hilarious, and proves that she's one of the brightest minds in English literature today...She considers Brexit and Key & Peele, J.G. Ballard and Jay-Z, Billie Holiday and Justin Bieber. Refreshingly, she does it all without the kind of knowing wink that some cultural observers can't resist; if she believes there's a clear-cut dichotomy between so-called 'high' and 'low' culture, she doesn't let on...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. And she manages to breathe new life into well-worn topics...There's not an essay in Feel Free that's less than engrossing. Sure, Smith is extremely intelligent, but smart authors are a dime a dozen: More importantly, she's an elegant writer, original, big-hearted and enthusiastic."

A timely, powerful collection of essays from one of our sharpest minds and most sparkling stylists.

How much joy can a person tolerate? How many kinds of boredom make up a life? Who owns the story of black America? Should Justin Bieber be more like Socrates? And why is there a dead art collector floating in the swimming pool?
     Dazzlingly insightful, explosively funny and ever-timely, Zadie Smith is back with a second unmissable collection of essays. From German Old Masters to the new masters of East Coast rap, from social networks opening lines of communication to national referenda closing doors, Feel Free reaches out in all directions and draws back a rich feast of ideas. Here pop culture, high culture, social change and political debate all get the Zadie Smith treatment: dissected with razor-sharp intellect, set brilliantly against the context of the utterly contemporary, and considered with a deep humanity and compassion.
     With the easy intimacy of a local and the piercing clarity of an outsider, Feel Free casts a sharp critical eye over the creative luminaries that have shaped our world: from J. G. Ballard to Karl Ove Knausgaard, Orson Welles to Charlie Kaufman, Joni Mitchell to Beyonce, and far beyond. And it considers the points of contact where the author herself meets this world, where the political meets the personal and critique meets memoir. This electrifying new collection showcases Zadie Smith as a true literary powerhouse, demonstrating once again her credentials as an essential voice of her generation.


Publisher's Description: Dazzlingly insightful, explosively funny and ever-timely, essential writer Zadie Smith is back with a second unmissable collection of essays, following up her critically acclaimed collection, Changing My Mind * Penguin * It's good to know that, while my body rusts, I can keep my mind stretched and nimble by reading Zadie Smith * Observer * A preturnaturally gifted writer with a voice that's street-smart and learned, sassy and philosophical all at the same time * The New York Times * Smith writes [ . . . ] with such infectious zeal and engaging accessibility that it makes you want to turn up at her house and demand tutoring * Dazed and Confused *

Author description

Zadie Smith is the author of the novels White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, NW and Swing Time, as well as a novella, The Embassy of Cambodia, and a collection of essays, Changing My Mind. She is also the editor of The Book of Other People. Zadie was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2002, and was listed as one of Granta's 20 Best Young British Novelists in 2003 and again in 2013. White Teeth won multiple literary awards including the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Whitbread First Novel Award and the Guardian First Book Award. On Beauty was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Orange Prize for Fiction, and NW was shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. Zadie Smith is currently a tenured professor of fiction at New York University and a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Stock Information

General Fields

  • : 9780241146903
  • : Penguin Books, Limited
  • : Hamish Hamilton
  • : January 2018
  • : 234mm X 153mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : February 2018
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : en
  • : 824/.914
  • : 480
  • : Zadie Smith
  • : Paperback
  • : 1