“Smith has a knack for unearthing the deeper truths that lie beneath common experience,” says The New York Times.
Smith is a British novelist, essayist and short story writer known for her unique perspective on contemporary culture, superb dialogue and emotionally rich stores. Her well deserved reputation as one the of the most important voices of her generation was established with her award winning debut novel, White Teeth. Her newest novel, Swing Time—a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and long-listed for the Man Booker Prize—is “a multilayered tour-de-force… [that] burnishes her place in the literary firmament,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
Smith was born in North London in 1975 to an English father and a Jamaican mother. She graduated from Cambridge University in 1997 with a degree in English. Her first novel, White Teeth, was published a short time after her graduation in 2000. It is a vibrant novel that portrays contemporary multicultural London told through the lens of three ethnically diverse families. The book won several prizes and awards including the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread First Novel Award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best First Book) and two BT Ethnic and Multicultural Media Awards (Best Book/Novel and Best Female Media Newcomer). It was also shortlisted for the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Author’s Club First Novel Award. White Teeth has been circulated around the world and has been translated into more than 20 languages. It was also adapted for television broadcast in the fall of 2002.
“One of this generation’s most vital literary voices,” says Jeffrey Eugenides, author of Middlesex.
Her novel The Autograph Man, published in 2002, is a story of loss, obsession and the nature of celebrity. The book won the 2003 Jewish Quarterly Wingate Literary Prize for Fiction. In 2003 and 2013, Smith was named by Granta magazine as one of the 20 Best of Young British Novelists. On Beauty won the 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction and NW was short-listed for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize and the Women’s Prize for Fiction and was named as one of The New York Times 10 Best Books of 2012. Smith also writes regularly for The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. She published one collection of essays, Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays in 2009. Her acclaimed novel Swing Time was published in 2016. Her new collection of essays, Feel Free, is slated for publication in February 2018.
Her most recent accomplishment is being elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters. She is currently a tenured professor of Creative Writing at New York University.
Pico Iyer is an author of numerous books about crossing cultures, among them Video Night in Kathmandu, The Lady and the Monk and The Global Soul. He has also been an essayist for Time since 1986, he also publishes regularly in Harper’s, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times and many other publications around the globe. Iyer was born in Oxford, England in 1957 to parents from India and was educated at Eton, Oxford and Harvard. Since 1992, he has lived a quiet rural life in Japan while spending part of each year in a Benedictine hermitage in California.
For more information, visit artsandlectures.ucsb.edu or call 805/893-3535.