Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Thus Spake Zadie

I'm not very nationalistic, but there are certain artists who I weirdly wish were American, just because of how well they would reflect on us. One of these people is Zadie Smith. But of course, then she wouldn't have that great accent.

Smith's not only a terrific writer (if you're not hooked by the opening pages of White Teeth, seek help), but she's always eloquent, incisive, and charmingly self-effacing when she speaks.

I strongly recommend taking the time to listen to this interview with her (which I found via The Stranger).

My computer opens the file with a player that doesn't allow me to skip around within the program, so I can't easily transcribe some of my favorite parts, but they include a brilliant take on reading as analogous to amateur musicianship and a distrust of the notion that political affiliation is the most important or useful way to differentiate people.

One caveat: She's interviewed by Michael Silverblatt, who has evidently been praised by people like Susan Sontag and Norman Mailer. Still, he has (here, at least) that kind of smarmy, interfering tone that causes cultural interviewers to be parodied so easily. You have to make it past him (particularly the way he steps on Smith's analysis of David Foster Wallace, which I really wanted to hear without interruption), but trust me: Listen to the whole thing anyway.


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