You may have heard of U.K. author Zadie Smith's smash hit novel White Teeth, or her more recent book On Beauty, which won the prestigious Orange Award. Now this literary superstar tells The Literateur that she's excited to spend the next decade writing speculative fiction and scifi.
Smith revealed that she's exploring very new territory in her writing — including scifi:
To be honest, I hope those ‘books of ideas' as you put them are in my past. A novel shouldn't be an essay. Its ideas, if it has them, should be a bit more diffusely spread. I don't care about staging debates anymore. I don't think I ever really did – it was just easier than writing properly. It's much harder to write truthfully, chaotically, without a neat plan, without always manipulating your reader in one way or another . . .
This is a long way of saying that On Beauty was the end of all that for me – of trying to get people's approval by writing myself IN to this English tradition. I just don't care any more. All I can do is continue to work very hard on my little projects, taking in any influence I feel like, and not fearing subjects that interest me. 19th century Jamaica interests me. The 70's Black Power movement in London interests me. The feminist lesbian movements of the 60's and 70's interest me. At the moment, sci fi, speculative fiction, interests me enormously. I'm so excited now about the next decade. I feel free!
When the interviewer asks Smith whether her recent long-term stay in Italy will produce a book like E.M. Forster's classic romance A Room With A View, she replies that it's more likely to inspire science fiction:
I guess that's not the aspect of Italy that interests me. The piazzas and the romance. That's not Italy – that's an Englishman's vision of Italy. I sort of see it more as a speculative fiction place – like, what would happen to England if media regulation disappeared, the BBC went, Murdoch had the terrestrial channels and the fourth estate collapsed? People wrongly believe Italy to be a backward country. Actually Italy is a vision of what's coming.