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Michael Wood: Chinese Whispers, 8 August 2013

Multiples 
edited by Adam Thirlwell.
Portobello, 380 pp., £20, August 2013, 978 1 84627 537 1
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... enough. There is a remarkable story here by Giuseppe Pontiggia, coolly and crisply translated by Zadie Smith, about an Italian boy who falls in love with practicality and his own sense of the way things really are: he can’t stand his father’s insistence on poetry and culture. He grows up, lives and dies according to his own plan, a model of willed ...

Reconstruction

Christopher Beha: Jeffrey Eugenides, 6 October 2011

The Marriage Plot 
by Jeffrey Eugenides.
Fourth Estate, 406 pp., £20, October 2011, 978 0 00 744129 7
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... among them Eugenides’s contemporary Jonathan Franzen and a younger cohort that includes Zadie Smith and Dave Eggers – have come to believe that too much was lost – in moral and emotional engagement, in readership – when realism was thrown over. As Franzen wrote in the New Yorker, ‘in college, I’d admired Derrida and the Marxist and ...

So Caucasian

Emily Wilson: ZZ Packer, 1 April 2004

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere 
by ZZ Packer.
Canongate, 238 pp., £9.99, February 2004, 1 84195 478 0
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... of touch. She shows her range not by depicting people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, as Zadie Smith does, but by exploring the complexity of the black experience. There are several non-black characters in the collection, and one of the stories is set in Japan, but the non-blacks are always described from the outside, and they are interesting ...

The Slightest Sardine

James Wood: A literary dragnet, 20 May 2004

The Oxford English Literary History. Vol. XII: 1960-2000: The Last of England? 
by Randall Stevenson.
Oxford, 624 pp., £30, February 2004, 0 19 818423 9
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... anthology The New Poetry, which promoted Hughes and Plath over the stodgy Movement), Edward Lucie-Smith and, terrifyingly, Michael Horovitz, the editor of ‘one of the decade’s genuinely polemical anthologies: Children of Albion (1969)’. Stevenson’s fondness for Prynne over Larkin is less offensive than his reasons for dismissing Larkin, which betray a ...

Each Cornflake

Ben Lerner: Knausgaard, Vol. 3, 21 May 2014

My Struggle: Vol. 3. Boyhood Island 
by Karl Ove Knausgaard, translated by Don Bartlett.
Harvill Secker, 490 pp., £12.99, March 2014, 978 1 84655 722 4
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... power is that we keep likening his writing to a drug. ‘I need the next volume like crack,’ Zadie Smith writes. As the literary critic – and former junkie – Michael Clune has pointed out, we tend to reach for drug metaphors when we find ourselves taking pleasure in a book without being able to ascribe our interest to respectable literary ...

Bohumil Hrabal

James Wood: The life, times, letters and politics of Czech novelist Bohumil Hrabal, 4 January 2001

Dancing Lessons for the Advanced in Age 
by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by Michael Henry Heim.
Harvill, 103 pp., £6.99, May 1998, 1 86046 215 4
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Too Loud a Solitude 
by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by Michael Henry Heim.
Abacus, 112 pp., £6.99, May 1997, 0 349 10262 7
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I Served the King of England 
by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by Paul Wilson.
Picador, 256 pp., £6.99, May 1990, 0 330 30876 9
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Closely Observed Trains 
by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by Edith Partiger.
Abacus, 128 pp., £5.99, May 1990, 0 349 10125 6
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Total Fears: Letters to Dubenka 
by Bohumil Hrabal, translated by James Naughton.
Twisted Spoon Press, 203 pp., $13.50, June 1998, 80 902171 9 2
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... farcical escapism: Rushdie, Grass, Pynchon in his most recent novel, David Foster Wallace, even Zadie Smith. In novels by those writers, we have lately encountered terrorist groups with silly names, a genetically engineered mouse, two clocks having a conversation with each other, a giant cheese, a baby who plays air guitar in his crib, and so on. These ...

Illuminating, horrible etc

Jenny Turner: David Foster Wallace, 14 April 2011

Although Of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself: A Road Trip with David Foster Wallace 
by David Lipsky.
Broadway, 320 pp., $16.99, 9780307592439
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The Pale King: An Unfinished Novel 
by David Foster Wallace.
Hamish Hamilton, 547 pp., £20, April 2011, 978 0 241 14480 0
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... acute, this would never be a straightforward process. In her essay on Wallace in Changing My Mind, Zadie Smith noticed his tendency to ‘romanticise the pure relations’ the wistful intellectual likes to imagine to exist ‘between simple people’ (she is discussing characters from Wallace’s short story collection, Brief Interviews with Hideous ...

As Many Pairs of Shoes as She Likes

Jenny Turner: On Feminism, 15 December 2011

... said she was ‘baffled’ by her own behaviour – she had a much nicer TV set at home. Shonola Smith, 22, pleaded guilty, along with her sister and a friend, to ‘entering’ Argos in Croydon: ‘The tragedy is that you are all of previous good character,’ the judge said, as he sentenced them to six months each. Chelsea Ives, the 18-year-old ‘shamed ...

You don’t mean dick to me

Lidija Haas: Amy Winehouse, 15 July 2015

... No Good’, makes both told and trouble seem to end with a w; ‘this voice,’ the characters in Zadie Smith’s NW decide, ‘sounded like London – especially its Northern and North-Western zones – as if its owner were patron saint of their neighbourhoods.’ Throughout Back to Black, her glottal-stopped London accent eerily combines with a Motown ...

Diary

Alan Bennett: Allelujah!, 3 January 2019

... than I can. It’s not my sort of book at all, but it leaves me wanting to read his other books. Zadie Smith thinks it a masterpiece and says so on the cover. Certainly it’s a new way of writing a novel.25 May, Yorkshire. To Leeds this morning in an empty train with neither of us feeling very clever but revived by a lovely lunch at Sous le Nez in ...

Come hungry, leave edgy

Sukhdev Sandhu: Brick Lane, 9 October 2003

Brick Lane 
by Monica Ali.
Doubleday, 413 pp., £12.99, June 2003, 9780385604840
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... with tenderness and humour rather than pathos. Most endearing is Chanu, a girthy, frog-faced wordsmith, an ulcerous, self-designated intellectual who parades around his congested living-room delivering snatches of the transcendental philosophy he picked up while studying at the local Centre for Meditation and Healing. The walls of his house are lined with ...

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