Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Review: "Changing My Mind" by Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith is a British author who has experienced great success in writing novels at a young age. She is also the writer of numerous essays and Changing My Mind is a collection of published and unpublished essays written for specific occasions.

The first section, "Reading," is best read by the literary scholar. Those who do not have a deep understanding of British and European fiction may find themselves lost at times as to what she is saying.

The second section, "Being," makes the book more accessible to every reader. The essay "One Week In Liberia" is a fascinating account of the country and the troubles it faces. "Speaking In Tongues" looks at the challenges faced by people who are members of more than one societal group and find themselves "double-voiced," attempting to speak for each group.

The third section, "Seeing," is Smith's take on the entertainment industry. Her collection of movie reviews titled "At the Multiplex, 2006" is a great take on mainstream movies, especially her comment "Date Movie is less than nothing. It's a new concept in crap."

The final section, "Feeling," is an intimate look at Smith's own family. Reflections on Christmas, her father's war story and his love for comedy are revealing and heartwarming. Any reader will think of their own families while reading these essays.

Changing My Mind is an interesting collection of essays, taking on very different topics. Most require an in depth knowledge of literature, British culture and writing. For an understanding of what makes a good essay, the book is a good read. But for one looking for a good read, this is probably not the best choice.

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