Feel Free

Feel Free

Essays

Book - 2018
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A New York Times Notable Book
Winner of the 2019 National Book Critics Circle Awards, Criticism category
Finalist for the 2019 PEN / Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay

A timely, powerful collection of essays from one of our sharpest minds and most sparkling stylists.

How much joy can a person tolerate? How many kinds of boredom make up a life? Who owns the story of black America? Should Justin Bieber be more like Socrates? And why is there a dead art collector floating in the swimming pool?
Dazzlingly insightful, explosively funny and ever-timely, Zadie Smith is back with a second unmissable collection of essays. From German Old Masters to the new masters of East Coast rap, from social networks opening lines of communication to national referenda closing doors, Feel Free reaches out in all directions and draws back a rich feast of ideas. Here pop culture, high culture, social change and political debate all get the Zadie Smith treatment: dissected with razor-sharp intellect, set brilliantly against the context of the utterly contemporary, and considered with a deep humanity and compassion.
With the easy intimacy of a local and the piercing clarity of an outsider, Feel Free casts a sharp critical eye over the creative luminaries that have shaped our world: from J. G. Ballard to Karl Ove Knausgaard, Orson Welles to Charlie Kaufman, Joni Mitchell to Beyonce, and far beyond. And it considers the points of contact where the author herself meets this world, where the political meets the personal and critique meets memoir. This electrifying new collection showcases Zadie Smith as a true literary powerhouse, demonstrating once again her credentials as an essential voice of her generation.
Publisher: [Toronto] : Hamish Hamilton, 2018
ISBN: 9780670068388
Branch Call Number: 824 .914 SMI
Characteristics: 452 p. :,ill. ;,25 cm

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brangwinn
Nov 13, 2019

Smith had me at the first short story about the importance of libraries, and then the stories continue and are so relevant. I’m not fond of short stories but Smith gave me so much to think about, I would put the book down after reading a story and think about it as I worked on other things.

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dvonne
Apr 07, 2019

i may never know what it's like to feel joe biden's warm breath upon my nape, but reading this book let me know, just for a moment, what it's like to be obama. sometimes, when i read it, i imagined biden leaning over me, asking "whatcha readin' barry?" i'd giggle and tell him to mind his own business. reading this book, i had to wonder whether zadie smith's middle name wasn't "word", because she's just that: a word smith. some have called her the eli roth of literature, and i'm not inclined to argue. two huge thumbs skyward

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jmreid1220
Dec 29, 2018

On Barack Obama's Top Books of 2018

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abbi_g
Sep 01, 2018

This is the first Zadie Smith book that I have ever read; and I'm not going to lie, I kind of wish I had started with one of her novels instead. It's not that she's a bad writer, but rather Feel Free felt really long. I could've done without all of her Harper's Columns and a few of the other essays that she chose to include in this collection. I did however, enjoy 'Fences: A Brexit Diary', 'The House That Hova Built', 'Brother from Another Mother', '"Crazy They Call Me": On Looking at Jerry Dantzic's Photos of Billie Holiday's and 'Getting In & Out'.

The sections where she discusses her mother & father's relationship really resonated with me, since I too am the daughter of immigrants (my parents are from Jamaica). But aside from those essays, I thought Feel Free was much longer than it needed to be.

liljables Mar 27, 2018

Having only read Smith's fiction in the past, I was more than pleasantly surprised by her non-fiction voice. Feel Free introduces you to a writer who is an unabashed fan of culture, with all its lofty highs and deliciously tawdry lows. I would describe Smith's writing as a feminist, slightly less snarky, and somehow both more highbrow and more lowbrow version of Chuck Klosterman. That's totally clear, right?

Some stand-out bits for me include an early essay on the importance of public libraries (obviously); a piece about the Jamaican diaspora that's really a love letter to Sean Paul's "Get Busy"; and the absolutely delightful "Some Notes on Attunement," in which Smith writes about falling in love with Joni Mitchell.

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laphampeak
Mar 26, 2018

I'm so impressed with Smiths vast knowledge of writing, writers, and the arts. She has the ability to foray into an essay on rap, Joni Mitchell or, for example, in Generation Why? she writes (commenting on social media) "It reminds me of those of us who turn an overinflated liberal-bourgeois sense of self should be careful what we wish for: our denuded networked selves don't look more free, they look more owned.. In Northwest London Blues she refers to the dwindling of libraries, "Well-run libraries are filled with people because what a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor public space in which you do not have to buy anything in order to stay." This book is not meant, in my opinion, to be a quick readthrough but one to savor one essay at a time.

LPL_ShirleyB Feb 22, 2018

Zadie Smith inspires deep thinking. She also shares profound insights on the writing of her novels.

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abbi_g
Dec 27, 2018

When I think of my parents it's often with some guilt: that I did the things they never got to do, and I did them on their watch, using their time, as if they were themselves just that -- time-keepers -- and not separate people living out the ever-shortening time of their own existence.

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