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Publisher's Summary

Zadie Smith brings to her essays all of the curiosity, intellectual rigor, and sharp humor that has attracted so many readers to her fiction, and the result is a collection that is nothing short of extraordinary. Presented in four sections - Reading, Being, Seeing, and Feeling - Changing My Mind invites listeners to witness the world from Zadie Smith's unique vantage. Smith casts her acute eye over material both personal and cultural, with wonderfully engaging essays written over the past decade-some published here for the first time-on diverse topics including literature, movies, going to the Oscars, British comedy, family, feminism, Barack Obama, Katharine Hepburn, and Anna Magnani.

In her investigations, Smith also reveals much of herself. Her literary criticism shares the wealth of her experiences as a reader and exposes the tremendous influence the work of E. M. Forster, Zora Neale Hurston, George Eliot, and others have had on her writing life and self-understanding. Smith also speaks directly to writers as a craftsman, offering precious practical lessons on process, and encouraging readers to attend to the slippery questions of identity, art, love, and vocation.

©2009 Zadie Smith (P)2009 Penguin

Critic Reviews

“Smith writes with a beguiling mix of assurance and solemnity, borrowing her vocabulary from many intellectual and cultural sources... Smith’s native intelligence, however, seems so formidable that you can’t help hoping she’ll change her mind yet again.” (The New York Times Book Review)
 

"Smith brings her novelist’s gifts - an eye for detail, a languid turn of phrase - to the essay form.” (The Boston Globe)

“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... Smith shows herself in more ways than one to be a very old, empathetic head on ridiculously young shoulders... It’s in her impassioned, compulsively dialectical and endearingly wonkish inquiry into literature that Smith really takes off.” (Los Angeles Times)

What listeners say about Changing My Mind

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

There may be truths on the side of life

"There may be truths on the side of life."
- Saul Bellow, quoted in Zadie Smith's Changing My Mind

I love Zadie Smith. But not in any of the Greek formal ways. I love her in multiple ways, spilling over each other. I love her brain. I love her prose. I love how closely she reads. I love how different her perspectives are to mine and how similar AT THE SAME TIME. She reminds me why I love writing, movies, Nabokov, DFW, family and why I need to love all these things and more -- better. She began these essays with an essay about Zora Neal Hurston that bounced around the idea of her loving ZNH as only a black woman can and she ended these essays with a lengthy tribute to DFW and his collection of stories Brief Interviews with Hideous Men. She showed me how, even with reading almost all of DFW, I'm still a novice. That my reading skills lack and that Zadie Smith, is also (as cliched and ironic as this sounds in a post-Obama, Brexit/Trump era) almost post-racial (not really, but she is larger than most categories people would want to shove her into.

This collection is broken into the following sections:

READING
1. Their Eyes Were Watching God: What does Soulful Mean? - ✶✶✶✶✶
2. E.M. Forster, Middle Manager - ✶✶✶✶✶
3. Middlemarch and Everybody - ✶✶✶✶
4. Rereading Barthes and Nabokov - ✶✶✶✶✶
5. F. Kafka, Everyman - ✶✶✶✶
6. Two Directions for the Novel - ✶✶✶✶✶

BEING
7. That Crafty Feeling - ✶✶✶✶✶
8. One Week in Liberia - ✶✶✶
9. Speaking in Tongues - ✶✶✶✶✶

SEEING
10. Hepburn and Garbo - ✶✶✶✶✶
11. Notes on Visconti's Bellissima - ✶✶✶
12. At the Multiplex - ✶✶✶✶✶
13. Ten Notes on Oscar Weekend - ✶✶✶

FEELING
14. Smith Family Christmas - ✶✶✶✶✶
15. Accidental Hero - ✶✶✶✶✶
16. Dead Man Laughing - ✶✶✶✶

REMEMBERING
17. Brief Interviews iwthh Hideous Men: The Difficult Gifts of DFW - ✶✶✶✶✶

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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my first audio book

this was the first audio book I've listened to and it was a good one. I likes the essay format become I didn't have to keep track of a story and could pause it when I needed to and easily remover where I was in a few minutes because it wasn't a large story. I loved the reader, she has a great voice, it is clear and articulate, she really brings the charm of the writing.

1 person found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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bland and nutritious

I could barely finish except when Smith inserted her personal experience. brilliant literary criticism was lost in a bored narrator's drone.

1 person found this helpful