Feel Free

Essays
Narrated by: Nikki Amuka-Bird
Length: 13 hrs and 53 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (179 ratings)

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

OR
In cart

Publisher's Summary

From Zadie Smith, one of the most beloved authors of her generation, a new collection of essays

Since she burst spectacularly into view with her debut novel almost two decades ago, Zadie Smith has established herself not just as one of the world's preeminent fiction writers but also a brilliant and singular essayist. She contributes regularly to The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books on a range of subjects, and each piece of hers is a literary event in its own right.

Arranged into four sections - In the World, In the Audience, On the Bookshelf, and Feel Free - this new collection poses questions we immediately recognize. What is The Social Network - and Facebook itself - really about? "It's a cruel portrait of us: 500 million sentient people entrapped in the recent careless thoughts of a Harvard sophomore." Why do we love libraries? "Well-run libraries are filled with people because what a good library offers cannot be easily found elsewhere: an indoor public space in which you do not have to buy anything in order to stay." What will we tell our granddaughters about our collective failure to address global warming? "So I might say to her, look: the thing you have to appreciate is that we'd just been through a century of relativism and deconstruction, in which we were informed that most of our fondest-held principles were either uncertain or simple wishful thinking, and in many areas of our lives we had already been asked to accept that nothing is essential and everything changes - and this had taken the fight out of us somewhat."

Gathering in one place for the first time previously unpublished work, as well as already classic essays, such as, "Joy," and, "Find Your Beach," Feel Free offers a survey of important recent events in culture and politics as well as Smith's own life. Equally at home in the world of good books and bad politics, Brooklyn-born rappers and the work of Swiss novelists, she is by turns wry, heartfelt, indignant, and incisive - and never any less than perfect company. This is literary journalism at its zenith.

©2018 Zadie Smith (P)2018 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"[Narrator Nikki] Amuka-Bird's mellow British voice is a marvel. Smith's breadth of subject matter can seem overwhelming, so the listener can appreciate the evenness of the narration and better absorb the substance of each topic. Music, art, dance, technology, British and American politics, and love are all treated dispassionately, and Amuka-Bird's self-assured tone is a perfect match for Smith's musings." (AudioFile)  

More from the same

What members say
Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    123
  • 4 Stars
    28
  • 3 Stars
    17
  • 2 Stars
    7
  • 1 Stars
    4
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    131
  • 4 Stars
    15
  • 3 Stars
    14
  • 2 Stars
    2
  • 1 Stars
    3
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    110
  • 4 Stars
    31
  • 3 Stars
    12
  • 2 Stars
    3
  • 1 Stars
    5

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

great material, thoroughly brilliant narration

If you could sum up Feel Free in three words, what would they be?

thoughtful, open, charming

What about Nikki Amuka-Bird’s performance did you like?

Amuka-Bird's narration is genius! So much so it made me wonder at times whether she shares interest in some of topics Smith writes about, because she subtly nails certain details in vocal inflection for different people, and sometimes further nested people-performing-as-characters, Smith mentions. But not only that, the inflection and emphasis is all around brilliant, passionate in the right measure and context for maximum effect, and at turns so effective at conveying the level, open curiousness that makes Smith's inquiries so refreshing and bright. Perfect match and now I want to find and listen to everything Amuka-Bird's narrated!

Any additional comments?

Loved this audiobook to the point I wonder how anything can compare afterward--a good example of one where I'm so glad I listened to it instead of read it in print.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Feeling Freer

Smith is one of my favorite authors, but she has become my favorite literary philosopher with this collection. Her and David Foster Wallace, that is. Smith hits you in a different way than Wallace does. Whereas he will never let forget the strange logic of TV--beaming one all-appealing message to the masses--Smith won’t let you feel the same way about particular experiences. Notably, in this collection, the weather, Get Out, Facebook, Key and Peele, Jay Z, parenting, advertising, Manhattan, 30 Rock, Justin Bieber, Kierkegaard, and, of course, a slew of books, both of public and personal note: Suburban Monk, Crash, I Melrose, The Dead Yard, You are Free, Portnoy’s Complaint.
If you are an auto-didact like me, or a self-made literary snob, like me, her essays are a seedbed, a true master’s course with the strongest voice on nuance, personality, and layering there is to guide you.
My personal hilights include her description of Facebook’s use. She came to review The Social Network, but she stayed to articulate the indescribable feel of being a Facebook user. Her beautiful essay on use of the first person via Keat’s negative capacity: denying one’s mastery to gain it. Is that humility or ego? The retrospective swirl. A feeling as tangible as deja vu. It is the realization that you now, as a parent yourself, discover why your parents acted so strangely all the time.
My personal favorite was using the existentialist Buber to describe the morose existance of icons like Justin Bieber—someone who never gets a true relationship with a person because he is made into a thing by so many and, in turn, makes so many into things.
I will be returning to these essays over the years. Not to remember why things are the way they are, as I do Wallace, but to recall exactly how certain things feel and why.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

enjoyable but melancholy

as good as changing my mind but the optimism of the Obama era has left and has been replaced with dread of the Trump era. it is hard to listen because of this.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Understanding

Zadie has given us a look inside her world, inside the things that inspire her and her thoughts on contemporary culture with a philosophical undercurrent, delivered seamlessly by Nikki Amuka-Bird.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Solid surveys of various social themes

Whether relatable or not there is an immersiveness to the narrative and accessibility to the observations. Narrators voice gives good anchor to the subject material.

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Superb

Mind-opening collection of brilliant essays by one of the most thoughtful and gifted writers of her generation. Narrator is a gem who lends deep expression to the writing--almost as though she had written it herself. One of the best listening experiences yet.

1 person found this helpful