Posts about Zadie Smith
Of the several noteworthy gatherings hosted this year by New York Public Library’s Live from the NYPL series, the last one I attended was Zadie Smith’s lecture on “Speaking in Tongues”. Poking right away into the nature of lectures and how a novelist is faced with “tonal challenges” when attempting to deliver one, she rolled her premise out: whereas a speech demands a singular true voice, a novelist–whose area of expertise is the imagined, after all–speaks his truth in a diffused voice filled with multiple personalities. But is this ability to be many-voiced, moving from one register to another, also useful for citizens and Presidents, and not just novelists?
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As pedestrians walked past the McNally Robinson book store in Soho, they stumbled a few paces back and forth. Beaming from the other side of the glass front was an engaged throng of faces. They had stuffed themselves into the store’s cafe area, late comers sprawling wherever there was space. Visible to the outsider was the strong back of a woman in a green sweater, whose face, unknown to him, was where all eyes in the room fell. Some bent their head whichever way against the glass until they recognized author Zadie Smith, and a few amongst them had even a point-and-shoot handy. We were monkeys in a zoo, gathered to hear authors Zadie Smith and Gary Shteyngart read from Gregor von Rezzori’s , Memoirs of an Anti-Semite; the novel has been re-issued by New York Review of Books, with an introduction by Deborah Eisenberg that Zadie Smith described as “brilliant”.
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And tickets go on sale tomorrow at noon!
I’m psyched about Oliver Sacks, author of several of my favorite books, including The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Seeing Voices: A Journey into the World of the Deaf. He will talk from his newest, Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain at this year’s New Yorker Festival, which is promising mind-rejuvenating panels in abundance throughout the weekend of October 5 (full schedule). Then there’s Zadie Smith, whose last event in New York, an evening at BAM, sold out way in advance; who spoke with such fury and conviction at last year’s festival, and whose White Teeth remains one of the most refreshing books I’ve ever read. Also participating are Fiona Apple, Sigur Ros, Yo La Tengo, actor Bill Nighy, authors Salman Rushdie, Miranda July, Ian McEwan, Steve Martin, amongst many others.