I haven’t read any of Zadie Smith’s fiction, but I’ve been meaning to for awhile, so when I received this essay collection for review I decided to dive right in. I figured that it would give me a good idea of what kind of writer she is, and possibly help me decide if I really do want to read her other books.
Changing My Mind is a compilation of essays that Smith has written for various publications over the years. There’s a huge variety of topics covered here – literature analysis, movie reviews, thoughts on writing, and personal family stories. It’s interesting to read these all together like I did because her tone really changes in her writing based on the subject and her audience. It’s clear from these essays that Smith is an excellent writer in general and a great essayist specifically.
I have to admit that I did not love every one of these essays. In fact, a few I was bored by – mainly the ones where she talked about books I haven’t read or movies I haven’t seen. But overall I was interested in what she had to say and had no problem keeping my attention on the book. I particularly loved the opening essay, an analysis of Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston that made me want to go back and reread the book immediately. I also loved “That Crafty Feeling” which is a lecture Smith gave on her own writing process and then rewrote in essay form for the book.
While Changing My Mind did not work for me perfectly, there were enough enjoyable essays for me to say that overall I am happy I read the book. And it definitely gave me a taste for Zadie Smith’s wonderful writing, which inspired me to pick up one of her novels in the very near future.