Her pale-pink turban only added to the sheer Zadieness of what one would imagine the woman responsible for works like White Teeth and On Beauty might be like. Walking onto the stage of the Eisner and Lubin auditorium last night, famed writer and NYU creative writing professor Zadie Smith electrified the room with readings from her latest novel, NW, and advice on the trying process behind writing a novel.
“Criticism is easy and novels are very hard,” Smith said, admitting to having written much of NW from our own Bobst library.
The event, part of the creative writing program’s Fall 2012 Reading Series, opened to a packed house of Zadie-enthusiasts and aspiring writers alike. Smith read two excerpts from NW, a novel that traces the evolving power of female friendships in Northwest London. A London-native herself, Smith spoke freely about her sense of allegiance for home. “You become much more nostalgic for places you’re away from,” Smith said.
Despite the nostalgia, Smith maintained a sincerely humorous command of the room. She answered questions on everything from creating realistic characters (“live a varied life”) to how she maintains her creative flow. “These are such hippie questions,” Smith said, laughing. “It’s 1966 and we’re back in the Village.”
Smith joined NYU’s creative writing program in 2010. Since that time, she has served as a tenured professor of fiction and “New Books” columnist for Harper’s Magazine. Her effortless cool-factor is doubled by the fact she became a newfound mother amidst it all.
So, what’s next for the woman who seems to do it all? According to Smith, a pretty humble desire. “I’m trying to allow myself to read for pleasure,” Smith said.
A list of upcoming participants in the Fall 2012 Reading Series is available here. Poets Dorothea Lasky and Eileen Myles will be featured tonight. The reading will take place at the Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House on 58 West 10th Street, between 5th and 6th Ave, and will start at 5 pm.