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Since she burst spectacularly into view with her debut novel almost two decades ago, Zadie Smith has established herself not just as one of the world's preeminent fiction writers but also a brilliant and singular essayist. She contributes regularly to The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books on a range of subjects, and each piece of hers is a literary event in its own right.
Arranged into four sections - In the World, In the Audience, On the Bookshelf, and Feel Free - this new collection poses questions we immediately recognize. What is The Social Network - and Facebook itself - really about? "It's a cruel portrait of us: 500 million sentient people entrapped in the recent careless thoughts of a Harvard sophomore." Why do we love 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." What will we tell our granddaughters about our collective failure to address global warming? "So I might say to her, look: the thing you have to appreciate is that we'd just been through a century of relativism and deconstruction, in which we were informed that most of our fondest-held principles were either uncertain or simple wishful thinking, and in many areas of our lives we had already been asked to accept that nothing is essential and everything changes - and this had taken the fight out of us somewhat."
Gathering in one place for the first time previously unpublished work, as well as already classic essays, such as, "Joy," and, "Find Your Beach," Feel Free offers a survey of important recent events in culture and politics as well as Smith's own life. Equally at home in the world of good books and bad politics, Brooklyn-born rappers and the work of Swiss novelists, she is by turns wry, heartfelt, indignant, and incisive - and never any less than perfect company. This is literary journalism at its zenith.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Mary E. Magin on 03-09-18
great material, thoroughly brilliant narration
If you could sum up Feel Free in three words, what would they be?
thoughtful, open, charming
What about Nikki Amuka-Bird’s performance did you like?
Amuka-Bird's narration is genius! So much so it made me wonder at times whether she shares interest in some of topics Smith writes about, because she subtly nails certain details in vocal inflection for different people, and sometimes further nested people-performing-as-characters, Smith mentions. But not only that, the inflection and emphasis is all around brilliant, passionate in the right measure and context for maximum effect, and at turns so effective at conveying the level, open curiousness that makes Smith's inquiries so refreshing and bright. Perfect match and now I want to find and listen to everything Amuka-Bird's narrated!
Any additional comments?
Loved this audiobook to the point I wonder how anything can compare afterward--a good example of one where I'm so glad I listened to it instead of read it in print.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
By Georgine on 06-17-18
Mind-opening collection of brilliant essays by one of the most thoughtful and gifted writers of her generation. Narrator is a gem who lends deep expression to the writing--almost as though she had written it herself. One of the best listening experiences yet.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful