Feel Free by Zadie Smith

Feel Free

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 five sections - In the World, In the Audience, In t...

Details Feel Free

TitleFeel Free
Release DateFeb 6th, 2018
PublisherPenguin Press
GenreWriting, Essays, Nonfiction, Short Stories

Reviews Feel Free

  • .
    2.991 stars - - - i'm free! this was a struggle to continue the more i read. broken into five sections: 'in the world', 'in the audience', 'in the gallery', 'on the bookshelf', and 'feel free', this book covers eclectic material like christian marclay's 24 hr movie, the clock; mark bradford's video homage to marylin monroe's walk in niagara; sarah sze's "centrifuge" art installation; brexit/english politics and policies; the film anomalisa (wonde...
  • Roman Clodia
    A mixed collection of essays: the best are when Smith is discussing issues of politics (the closure of public libraries, the Brexit vote) where she brings a personal intimacy to national questions. Less enticing are the 'musing' essays where Smith responds to artworks, books, or plays with ideas such as how different dancers epitomize styles of authorship. These pieces often have an interesting idea at their heart but they feel unstructured, some...
  • Trish
    The essays in this book have been published before, mostly in the New York Review of Books and The New Yorker, but it is quite something to see and read them all together. One has the impression of a very talkative, precocious teenager who notices ceaselessly, has opinions on everything, and is curious what you think but wants to get her view out there first, in case you change her mind. The flexibility of her mind and her fluency is the remarka...
  • Rod-Kelly Hines
    There's enough here for any and everybody to enjoy! Brava Queen!
  • Krista
    Writing exists (for me) at the intersection of three precarious, uncertain elements: language, the world, the self. The first is never wholly mine; the second I can only ever know in a partial sense; the third is a malleable and improvised response to the previous two. If my writing is a psychodrama I don't think it is because I have, as the internet would have it, so many feels, but because the correct balance and weight to be given to each of t...
  • Max Urai
    So: Zadie Smith, it seems, has replaced David Foster Wallace as my new person-to-aspire-to-be writer. Some pretty major shit going on with that right now. More as the story develops.
  • David Yoon
    Zadie offers up a collection of her essays here but what's interesting it that she notes in the foreword that all of them were written during the Obama presidency and therefore a product of an already bygone world. An interesting prompt for an essay I'd wish she'd written as well. I am the poor reader that is willing to meet the author part of the way but cannot subsist on language alone. That is to say Smith scores some easy hits for me with her...
  • Khush
    Zadie Smith must have felt freer in writing this book especially in regards to the broad range her essays. There is no single theme that runs through them. There are essays that are quite ordinary, and somehow, I have expected far more intellectually stimulating stuff from her. For instance 'North West London Blues'did not speak to me at all. In reading this book, I also have the feeling that since she is so well-known, no matter what she writes,...
  • Andre
    ⭐⭐⭐.5 The standout aspect of these essays is the writing is always stunning. It is not difficult to understand why Zadie Smith is hailed in all corners of the literary world. There is an essay where she is talking about Joni Mitchell’s music and the passion rising off the page made me go, search and listen to some Joni Mitchell tunes. Wow. That is the power of effective, great, and passionate reading. The one drawback to this collection i...
  • Vivek Tejuja
    My association with the works of Zadie Smith started somewhere in 2003, with White Teeth. It was one of those books that are actually unputdownable (I have always been of the opinion that terms such as these are nothing but marketing gimmicks). Since then, Smith has been one of my favourite writers and with good reason. Her prose is like biting into a plum – tart and sweet and almost awakens you from your stupor. It makes you stand up and take ...
  • Lara
    Just gonna say, Some Notes on Attunement is one of the best essays about music I've ever read. I know 100% nothing about Joni Mitchell. I'm sure I've heard something of hers at some point, but I have no idea what, and I've always sort of put her in this camp with U2 and the Beatles and Janis Joplin and Eric Clapton (aka artists that a lot of people really, really love and who are generally considered some of music's greats, but whom I have abso...
  • Molly Ferguson
    This was an advance reading copy graciously lent to me.What is truly amazing about Zadie Smith is her ability to go from "low" culture to high art in one sentence - she'll be musing on Key and Peele or Jay-Z and suddenly launch into a deep discussion of Schoepenhauer, Berger, or Buber. She tackles climate change, Brexit, Facebook, race, the boring parts of parenting, how pleasure is better than joy. Some of the essays in this book were so sparkli...
  • Laura
    The range of subjects Smith explores is this collection is truly dizzying: from the personal to the political, the philosophical to the physical, Brexit to Justin Bieber, Phillip Roth to Karl Ove Knausgard. Here are essays about her neighborhood library, traveling through Italy with her father, social media, music from rap to Billie Holiday to Joni Mitchell, and films of all persuasions, from arthouse to mainstream. She writes about art that has...
  • Ellen
    It seems there are two kinds of readers when it comes to Zadie Smith: those who love and admire her writing and those who dislike and are annoyed by it. I typically fall into the former camp: her gift with prose is deft, her intellect fierce, and I get a kick out of the characters she creates in her fiction. Curiously, I'm smack in the middle with this collection of essays. Her keen intelligence glimmers on every page, no doubt, and when she's mu...
  • Sara
    I love her essays more than her fiction, and always jump to read a new one -- so I'd read about half of these before. And I'd read them again. She's brilliant, she writes beautifully, and has a charmingly open enthusiastic curiosity for so many different things -- art, politics, dance, books, movies, other people.
  • Pete
    I love Zadie Smith's mind.
  • Anne HS
    This collection of essays spans a diverse range of topics: current events, music, art, books and movies, to name a few of the observations, covering both ends of the cultural spectrum. As an ex-librarian, I especially appreciated the piece on public libraries (‘the only thing left on the high street that doesn't want either your soul or your wallet’) and also the section on other writers. Her review of the work of Magnus Mills (one of my favo...
  • Mina De Caro (Mina's Bookshelf)
    Read more on Mina's Bookshelf http://minadecaro.blogspot.com/2018/0..."...you can't fight for a freedom you've forgotten how to identify. To the reader still curious about freedom I offer these essays--to be used, changed, dismantled, destroyed or ignored as necessary!"—Zadie SmithI enjoyed this collection of essays: Smith weaves all kinds of themes into its fabric (from the wry and yet poignant portrait of a generation, Generation Why?, lost i...
  • Christine
    Average of 2.5. Some essays were a 1 for me (no!); others, a 5 (yes!).Nicely bookended with what turned out to be my favourite essays, "Northwest London Blues" and "Joy" (my absolute favourite of the bunch), the majority of the rest of them - though it absolutely pains me to say it - in my opinion, were just very...meh. I know, I know, I'm cringing at myself just for typing that. Again, let me stress that this is just my personal opinion.Such is ...
  • Laura
    From BBC Radio 4 - Book of the week:Zadie Smith reads from her latest essay collection where she offers sharp, and often funny, insights and observations on high culture, pop culture, social change, political debate and the personal. Episode 1 of 5Today, she reflects on growing up in multicultural London in the 1980s.Episode 2 of 5Today, some lessons on the connection between writing and dancing.Episode 3 of 5Today's essay is the talk Zadie gave ...
  • Bianca
    The key to my four star rating is hidden in the detail - an intriguing essay title, a short quippy sentence, the way words role off the tongue if you read a paragraph out loud, self-sufficient segments that you want to put speech bubbles around and quote, a pop of surprising humour, a diversion of paths where one idea or anecdote flows effortlessly into another, reincorporation of themes or images or the author’s pet dog. Everything that makes ...
  • Erin Attenborough
    Is there anything Zadie Smith can’t do? Following her last novel (‘Swing Time’ – nominated for the Man Booker Prize, no less) ‘Feel Free’ is a collection of essays, ranging from the intimately personal to the critically topical. She opens with a nostalgic reminiscence of her favourite bookshops and libraries, while only two essays later is despairing over the implications of Brexit. Smith looks in at herself and out on the world, writ...
  • Laurel May
    Phew! I feel like I have learned. These essays were insightful and intelligent and beautifully written and basically solidified Zadie Smith as writer goals. I look up to Smith and with everything she publishes I’m inspired by her. I enjoyed all these essays even the ones I didn’t get because I’m nowhere near as well-read as she is! But my favourite essays were the ones on politics + race (the get out essay was excellent) and pop culture (Ge...
  • Julie
    Zadie Smith has a vast collection of published essays, which are collected in this wonderful book. Some topics may appeal more than others, but even if a subject may not suit the reader, Smith's writing is so elegant and thoughtful, that you can't resist reading- such as her essay on Justin Bieber. My personal favorites were that on public libraries, and the entire section on books, but also her essay on Brexit, and those that tell of her family....
  • Monika
    This was an absolute pleasure from start to finish. Reading this felt like having a multitude of genuine and intelligent conversations with Zadie Smith herself. This is only the second book by her that I've read, so while my opinion may change, for the moment I think that I find her non-fiction completely and totally superior. I'll definitely be reading more of her work soon.
  • Liam Horsman
    Is it hyperbolic to say that I rarely feel more sane and grounded than when I read Zadie?Given that I've read the majority of these essays in one medium or another, I expected to love Feel Free, but I was wholly unprepared for the emotional and intellectual force of encountering them as a collection. To say that together these pieces amount to something greater than the sum of their parts is, I think, to do them a disservice. Arriving at this poi...
  • Matthew
    3.5 stars.Crossing over is nothing new. Writers dip their beaks in a multitude of mediums all of the time. The results are rarely as impactful or significant as the works with which the author is known for - Lincoln in the Bardo comes immediately to mind as the outlier to this half-baked theory - yet almost always produces something (or some things) noteworthy. Suffice to say I went into Feel Free with ambivalent expectations. I was not surprised...
  • Kate
    I highly recommend this essay collection! I loved getting inside Zadie Smith's head. She's so interesting and writes so well about a huge variety of topics. I particularly enjoyed her two essays on music (about Joni Mitchell and Jay-Z) but I also loved her essays on Brexit, Key & Peele, and a painting by an artist who I'd never heard of. I'm reinspired to pick up some more of her fiction now!