Changing my mind: occasional essays | Zadie Smith

I have grown to really like / admire / respect Zadie Smith since realising I had misjudged her terribly (Changing my mind, indeed.)

This collection of essays is like hanging out with a wise and knowledgeable friend who’s also really cool and entertaining, and listening to them hold forth on all sorts of stuff – social, cultural, personal, political, which are of course all connected anyway. Someone who makes pretty much anything interesting just by talking about it, and looks at things in ways you’d never considered before.

Zadie Smith casts a critical eye cast over Nabokov, 50 Cent, George Eliot, Zora Neale Hurston, Obama, Kafka, Katharine Hepburn, and everything in between, and it’s all interesting. She muses on writing, travels in Africa, Hollywood, her father, comedy, and that’s all interesting too. I especially love Zadie (see, we’re on first name terms now) for loving E M Forster, who will never be zeitgeisty, but who, like her, was an incisive but humane, good-natured cultural critic, with a profound love of books and much wisdom to share.

And finally, this book’s fantastically eclectic index is a joy to read in its own right. How often do you get to say that?