Women We Love: Zadie Smith

Portrait ©Dominique Nabokov

Zadie Smith published her new novel Swing Time. We’re giving away 3×2 tickets for a reading in Berlin

On November 19th 2016, Zadie Smith received the WELT Literature Prize and gave a speech on optimism. If I hadn’t already been a fan of hers for years, I definitely would have become one then. You can read all of her thoughts on this important subject here.

Born in 1975 in London, Smith has been a leading figure for me. She has helped me through some moments of my adulthood in finding clear thoughts or forming an opinion on something. Some of the themes that she deals with in her books do not apply to me personally, but I love reading her books nevertheless – and perhaps even because of that. Novels like White Teeth, which helped lead to her breakthrough seven years ago, or the collection of essays Changing My Mind, which underlines her incredible vision.

It’s not the same kind of connection that I feel to my second favorite author, Siri Hustvedt. My view on Zadie Smith’s work is of a different intensity. And that’s how I find myself sitting in front of my laptop after work some nights watching every available YouTube video of her. It’s incredibly calming to listen to these panels. The ideas that are exchanged in these talks – most of which are based on her publications, but not always – deal with time-sensitive topics and so far have always helped me advance my own thinking a little bit.

Her latest novel, Swing Time, is a journey to another world: Childhood friends Tracey and Aimee have dedicated their lives to dance. They lose track of each other over time and then reunite. The London of the 80s and 90s is sketched out so well that you want to beam yourself back in time (hello VHS cassettes and childhood bedroom dreams). Titled after the 1936 Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers musical of the same name, passion for rhythmic movement remains a leitmotiv throughout the story’s ups and downs. Dance is a language that every person understands, and it is emphasized several times that the challenges that these young women face due to their backgrounds are completely irrelevant in this area of their lives.

This subtlety with which Zadie Smith illustrates this is one of her strengths. Now in her early forties, she appears to be at the height of her career. The way she tells her stories is mature and perfected. In a very approachable interview in the penultimate issue of The Gentlewoman, she also didn’t miss the opportunity to share this process of becoming and arriving with readers. That makes her even more likeable in the end. “When I finish a novel, I think never again. The only thing I want to do is read. It’s like a celebration,” she said in a Financial Times interview.

According to her website, her next collection of essays is coming out in February.


Swing Time by Zadie Smith, Kiepenheuer & Witsch

But in the meantime, she’s making a stop in Berlin on her book tour. We’ve been allowed to raffle off three sets of two tickets each (3×2) for the event at the rbb Sendesaal on Monday, October 2nd at 8pm.To participate, send an email to win@hey-woman.com until Monday, October 2nd, 9am.

The three winners will be announced by 10am on the day of the reading.

See more of Zadie Smith at her Instagram Account here or this amazing video by T Magazine here.

Julia co-founded one of the first fashion blogs in Germany in 2007 and became a freelance consultant for digital strategies after publishing her first book in 2010. After an eventful four years with Condé Nast working mainly in the digital department of Vogue Germany, she decided to launch her own online magazine with her dream partner, Veronika Heilbrunner. She is based in Berlin and loves to read books.