1975–, English fiction writer. The biracial daughter of an English father and Jamaican mother, Smith burst on the literary scene in 2000 with her first novel, White Teeth,
the award-winning, best-selling story of three ethnically diverse London families, told with verve and humor. The Autograph Man
(2002) is a tale of obsession and celebrity in which the main character searches for an elusive starlet. Smith was a fellow at Harvard's Institute for Advanced Study in 2002–3, and she set On Beauty
(2005), a satirical look at the politics of race and gender in academia, in the Boston area. Experimental in format, the tragicomic NW
(2012) chronicles the lives of four children raised in public housing as they attempt to make their way in the wider world, and Swing Time
(2016) moves from London to West Africa as it tells of two childhood friends who take divergent paths in life. Smith has also written short stories, many collected in Grand Union
(2019); Fail Better
(2006), a book on writing; and articles, essays, and reviews. Since 2010 she has been a professor of creative writing at New York Univ.
See studies by T. Walters, ed. (2009) and P. Tew (2010 and, as ed., 2014).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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