“Smith does more than illuminate what we're going through right now. She offers a model of how to think ourselves through a fraught historical moment without getting hysterical or sanctimonious, without losing our compassion or our appreciation for what's good in other people. She teaches us how to be better at being human.” —John Powers, Fresh Air
Deeply personal and powerfully moving, a short and timely series of reflective essays by one of the most clear-sighted and essential writers of our time.
Written during the early months of lockdown, Intimations explores ideas and questions prompted by an unprecedented situation. What does it mean to submit to a new reality--or to resist it? How do we compare relative sufferings? What is the relationship between time and work? In our isolation, what do other people mean to us? How do we think about them? What is the ratio of contempt to compassion in a crisis? When an unfamiliar world arrives, what does it reveal about the world that came before it?
Suffused with a profound intimacy and tenderness in response to these extraordinary times, Intimations is a slim, suggestive volume with a wide scope, in which Zadie Smith clears a generous space for thought, open enough for each reader to reflect on what has happened--and what should come next.
The author will donate her royalties from the sale of Intimations to charity.
In this incisive and insightful collection, Smith (Grand Union) ruminates on the pandemic, racial injustice, and the writer's role in a time of social upheaval. The collection begins with "Peonies," in which a memory of admiring flowers in a community garden sparks reflections on the female body. In "The American Experience," Smith blasts Donald Trump's pandemic response and considers how the crisis has undermined ideas of American exceptionalism. "Something to Do," the most substantial piece, reflects on doing creative work during quarantine and how her own life of "executing self-conceived schedules: teaching day, reading day, writing day, repeat" was upended by having family at home. In "Screengrabs," she briefly profiles familiar faces around her neighborhood, including a man Smith fans will recognize from a story in her Grand Union collection and a woman who is the "ideal city dweller" and cultivates "community without overly sentimentalizing the concept." In a postscript to this essay, Smith skillfully demonstrates how the pandemic and police brutality constitute two sides of the same coin for Black Americans. Smith is at her perceptive and precise best in this slim but thematically weighty volume of personal and civil reckoning.