Zadie Smith; November 13, 2014

President and Provost's
Diversity Lecture and Cultural Arts Series

Best-selling novelist Zadie Smith spoke to a full house at Mershon Auditorium on Thursday, November 13. Introduced by President Michael Drake, Smith spoke about her upbringing in London, England, and how she had two voices within her: one from her life as a child, and one from her life as an academic. She also spoke of the differences between living in England and the United States and the difficulty in going back to her old neighborhood to see how it had changed.

After her talk, there was a dialogue with Professor Paul Reitter, the director of the Humanities Institute, and then Smith answered questions from the audience.

Pictured from L- R: President and Mrs. Michael Drake; Zadie Smith; Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, Valerie B. Lee; ODI Director of Administrative/Special Programs, Rose Wilson-Hill; and Humanities Institute Director, Paul Reitter

Smith was born in 1975 to an English father and a Jamaican mother. It is her own heritage and upbringing that influenced the vibrant portrait of life in contemporary multicultural North London in her acclaimed first novel, White Teeth (2000). It was published shortly after she concluded her studies in English at Cambridge (1997). The story is told through the lenses of three ethnically diverse families. The book won a number of awards and prizes, including the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread First Novel Award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize, and two BT Ethnic and Multicultural Media Awards, just to name a few. White Teeth has been translated into over twenty languages and was later adapted for television. Smith has also served as Writer in Residence at the Institute of Contemporary Arts. She has gone on to write Piece of Flesh (2001), the introduction for The Burned Children of America (2003), and The Embassy of Cambodia (2013), which sold over 40,000 copies in the first year of publication.

The event was co-presented by the Humanities Institute, with additional support from the MFA Program in Creative Writing and the Wexner Center for the Arts.