Thom Geier
November 11, 2009 at 05:00 AM EST

Changing My Mind

type
Book
Current Status
In Season
author
Zadie Smith
publisher
Penguin
genre
Essays, Nonfiction
We gave it a B

Zadie Smith is the author of three novels of promise, precocity, and occasional brilliance. Changing My Mind, a collection of short nonfiction, has many of the same virtues. As you might expect, her essays on literature reflect smart close readings and a refreshing willingness to grapple with subjectivity; as a black British woman reading Zora Neale Hurston, she admits, ”I feared my ‘extraliterary’ feelings for her.” The extraliterary, purely autobiographical pieces are relatively few here, which is a shame. Smith is shakier when she strays from the subject of books or personal history to less familiar ground, like U.S. politics or Hollywood; her 2006 movie reviews for London’s Telegraph now just seem dated. B

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