By February 11, 2008 0 Comments Read More →

Zadie Smith: Your honors dishonor me

Prizewinning Zadie Smith is not keen on prizes. From the Telegraph (“Author Zadie Smith attacks literary prizes,” by Nicole Martin):

The writer, who has received awards for her novels White Teeth and On Beauty, said that most literary prizes were “only nominally” about literature.

“They are really about brand consolidation for beer companies, phone companies, coffee companies and even frozen food companies,” she said on the website of the Willesden Herald, a forum of the arts.

Her criticisms were attacked as hypocritical by senior publishing figures, who questioned why she had agreed to accept awards for her books.

Does this mean that, by accepting the Whitbread First Novel Award for White Teeth, she was doing a little freelance work in advertising? (Otherwise, perhaps she should have sent Sacheen Littlefeather to refuse on her behalf.) Or maybe she’s simply had a change of heart since then. It will be interesting to see what happens if she wins something else.

The cranky young author also had harsh words for writers who wish to mine a vein similar to hers:

Smith, the chairman of the Willesden Herald’s short story competition, also said that she and the other judges had decided not to award a prize this year because no entry was good enough.

“Just because this prize has the words Willesden and Zadie hovering by it, does not mean that I or the other judges want to read hundreds of jolly stories of multicultural life on the streets of north London,” she said.

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About the Author:

Keir Graff is Executive Editor of Booklist Publications and the author of five books. His most recent is the middle-grade novel, The Other Felix (2011). Follow him on Twitter at @Booklist_Keir.

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