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Zadie Smith


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‘To my mind, a true “creative” should not simply seek to satisfy a pre–existing demand but instead transform our notion of what it is we want.’ 

Almost two decades ago, 24–year–old Zadie Smith’s debut novel, White Teeth, garnered rapturous reviews and comparisons to the then stalwarts of the British literary establishment. To be a successful author was to be so in the shadows of Rushdie, Amis, McEwan. But here was an author who not only satisfied the demands of the tradition into which she was writing, she transformed it. 

In the intervening years, across novels and essays, reviews and short stories, Smith has again and again proved herself to be the standard against which new, vital, electrifying voices are measured. With wit and verve, compassion and creativity, she has created a body of work and attracted a legion of passionate readers with a new notion of what they want. There is nobody like Zadie Smith.

In conversation with Jia Tolentino.

This event will be Auslan interpreted.


Zadie Smith

‘The very reason I write is so that I might not sleepwalk through my entire life.’ With five novels – White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, NW and Swing Time – and two collections of essays – Changing My Mind and Feel Free – Zadie Smith has attracted countless awards, critical accl... Read more

Jia Tolentino

‘The freedom I want is located in a world where we wouldn’t need to love women, or even monitor our feelings about women as meaningful – in which we wouldn’t need to parse the contours of female worth and liberation by paying meticulous personal attention to any of this at all.’ Jia Tole... Read more


Melbourne Town Hall

90-120 Swanston Street Melbourne Victoria 3000

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The Wheeler Centre acknowledges the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation as the Traditional Owners of the land on which the Centre stands. We acknowledge and pay our respects to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their Elders, past and present, as the custodians of the world’s oldest continuous living culture.