Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays

Zadie Smith

Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays

How did George Eliot’s love life affect her prose? Why did Kafka write at three in the morning? In what ways is Barack Obama like Eliza Doolittle? Can you be over-dressed for the Oscars? What is Italian Feminism? If Roland Barthes killed the Author, can Nabokov revive him? What does ‘soulful’ mean? Is Date Movie the worst film ever made? Split into five sections – ‘Reading’, ‘Being’, ‘Seeing’, ‘Feeling’ and ‘Remembering’ – Changing My Mind finds Zadie Smith casting her eye over material both personal and cultural. 4.2 out of 5 based on 6 reviews
Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Literary Studies & Criticism
Format Hardback
Pages 320
RRP £20.00
Date of Publication November 2009
ISBN 978-0241142950
Publisher Hamish Hamilton
 

How did George Eliot’s love life affect her prose? Why did Kafka write at three in the morning? In what ways is Barack Obama like Eliza Doolittle? Can you be over-dressed for the Oscars? What is Italian Feminism? If Roland Barthes killed the Author, can Nabokov revive him? What does ‘soulful’ mean? Is Date Movie the worst film ever made? Split into five sections – ‘Reading’, ‘Being’, ‘Seeing’, ‘Feeling’ and ‘Remembering’ – Changing My Mind finds Zadie Smith casting her eye over material both personal and cultural.

Zadie Smith on the rise of the essay - The Guardian, 21/11/09

Reviews

The Observer

Peter Conrad

For Zadie Smith, criticism is a bodily pleasure, not an abstracted mental operation... She doesn't need a snack when watching a film, because her eyes are feeding on the images: Brief Encounter is, for her, a chunk of Wensleydale cheese, inimitably English. The critical arguments in which Smith engages are as vital and as potentially violent as sexual wrestling matches... It's good to know that, while my body rusts, I can keep my mind stretched and nimble by reading Zadie Smith.

15/11/2009

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The Scotsman

Stuart Kelly

Changing My Mind is belles-lettres in the best sense: engaging, questioning, subtly cajoling the reader into re-reading. She's a personable guide, even when the "critic wars" make her judgments jittery. The elegy for Foster Wallace is worth the cover price in itself, and left me wishing that she nailed her colours to the mast more often, instead of trying to be all things to all critics.

17/11/2009

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The Los Angeles Times

Ella Smith

Taken together [these essays] reflect a lively, unselfconscious, rigorous, erudite and earnestly open mind that's busy refining its view of life, literature and a great deal in between... It's in her impassioned, compulsively dialectical and endearingly wonkish inquiry into literature that Smith really takes off.

15/11/2009

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The Times

John Sutherland

One picks up Zadie Smith’s volume with some trepidation. Is Occasional Essays a euphemism for barrel scrapings of previously printed pieces? Although most of the contents are recycled, the book as a whole does cohere and bears republication. One could go so far as to say for those, like me, who admire her novels, it’s necessary.

21/11/2009

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The Financial Times

DJ Taylor

The desperate earnestness that accompanies at least two-thirds of Changing My Mind’s pages ... is both its saving grace and one of its disabling drawbacks... I ended up thinking, first, that Smith, the essayist, is at her most effective when she abandons her regular hauls up Mount Olympus with Vladimir, Jacques and co and settles for a subsidiary crag, and, second, that beneath even the most trifling ornament of this half-decade’s worth of fugitive journalism lurks something almost gone from contemporary BritLit: a genuine moral sense.

23/11/2009

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The Daily Telegraph

Sameer Rahim

Smith seems embarrassed by her own talent for character and observation; in appreciations of the experimental novelists Tom McCarthy and David Foster Wallace, there are hints of regret that she cannot match their bold modernity. But the true direction for Zadie Smith, novelist, is mapped out in the strongest pieces in this collection: three memoirs about her father.

12/12/2009

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