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Intimations

Best Seller
Intimations by Zadie Smith
Paperback $10.95
Jul 28, 2020 | ISBN 9780593297612

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Praise

“One of our finest living writers has already produced what may be the first definitive chronicle of an era she dubs ‘the global humbling.’ In a series of essays both personal and political, Zadie Smith turns her sharp gaze to everything from a bouquet of peonies to the death of George Floyd, with disarming insight into her own shifting perspectives as woman, writer, mother, and citizen of the world. ‘The people sometimes demand change. They almost never demand art,’ she suggests at one point, too modestly; we may not have asked for Intimations, but this slim, resonant collection still feels like a gift.” —Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly
 
Intimations is the third and slimmest of [Smith’s] essay collections, at 100 pages, but its psychic heft is substantial. In six essays that feel as intimate as a long walk with an old friend, Smith takes on some of the most pressing issues of our time, including police brutality and economic injustice. The book is grounded in inquiry far more often than in certainty, however, and the collection is one that probes, exploring everything from the relationship between privilege and suffering to the nature of isolation and what it means to be confined with the people we love.” —Ericka Taylor, NPR.org
 
“[Smith] is a spectacular essayist….who has written searchingly about race and culture, identity and place and family. Such issues continue to infuse the present, although their salience is complicated by the ways the virus has eroded collective trust…This is the essential job of the essayist: to explore not our innocence but our complicity. I want to say this works because Smith doesn’t take herself too seriously, but that’s not accurate. More to the point, she is willing to expose the tangle of feelings the pandemic has provoked. And this may seem a small thing, but it’s essential: I never doubt her voice on the page.” —David Ulin, Los Angeles Times
 
Intimations feels less like a precise attempt to document the COVID-19 era than a more abstract meditation on time: who is given it, who has it taken from them, and what its sudden presence or absence can lead to. “Time is how you spend your love,” Smith wrote in her 2005 novel On Beauty—quoting a poem by her own husband, Nick Laird—and Intimations functions impressively as a document of the mixed blessing of time as well as a searing excoriation of a society that has always apportioned it unevenly.”—Emma Specter, Vogue.com
 
“These days, I find in [Smith’s] work what I once found in Paley and Baldwin – a clarifying lucidity wedded to big-hearted moral awareness. These virtues shine through her powerful new collection, ‘Intimations: Six Essays,’ which she began at the onset of the pandemic and finished shortly after Floyd’s killing. Although only 100 pages, it made me think more than most books five times that length. There’s something worth quoting on virtually every page… 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
 
“‘Intimations,’ [Smith’s] slender new collection (less than 100 pages) of ultra-timely essays (several written in the past few momentous months), showcases her trademark levelheadedness. This cast of mind doesn’t mean that Smith avoids moral stances. In ‘Intimations,’ she speaks clearly and forcefully about the murder of George Floyd and the legacy of slavery and the systemic sins revealed by Covid-19…But despite these jabs, Smith remains unmistakably noncombative. This spirit appears born not of a fear of confrontation but a genuine perplexity (of a searching, brilliant kind) at the nature of experience and people, including herself….Smith’s gifts as a novelist animate her essays…In Zadie Smith’s universe — meaning, for my money, the one we’re all living in — complexity is king.” —John Williams, The New York Times
 
“Slender, solacing…To read Zadie Smith is to recognize how few writers seem to genuinely love human beings the way she does, with such infinite curiosity and attention, even when they are behaving monstrously. Or, for that matter, how few are able to do justice to what, for want of a better term, we’ll call common decency.” —Laura Miller, Slate 

“What a treat, then, that Zadie Smith has presented us with this jewel of a book, six essays all written at the beginning of lockdown, each generous, reliably insightful explorations of things like suffering, productivity, and love; all reminders of the kind of art people are capable of, even in the most dire of times.” Refinery29
 
“Incisive and insightful . . . Smith is at her perceptive and precise best in this slim but thematically weighty volume of personal and civil reckoning.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“There will be innumerable books to come about life in the pandemic, but Zadie Smith is who we want to read right now . . . This will be essential reading for us now, and when we look back in the years to come.” —Town & Country, Best Books to Read This July

Intimations captures the uneasiness of our modern moment as Smith reflects on the COVID-19 pandemic and relates it to issues of privilege and inequity. Her urgent voice tackles everything from what becomes important during isolation to the global response to George Floyd’s killing. The author asks questions, both timely and timeless, about how we respond to crisis and suffering.” —TIME, Best New Books of July

“An incisive collection . . . In just under 100 pages, Smith intimately captures the profundity of our current historical moment. Quietly powerful, deftly crafted essays bear witness to the contagion of suffering.” Kirkus, starred review

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