Zadie Smith wrote an entire essay collection in lockdown, and you can read it in July.
Think you’ve made good use of the COVID lockdown? Is your sourdough starter in decent shape? Did you achieve Inbox Zero? Has your home gym kept you fighting fit? Congratulations! Those are all admirable achievements and certainly nothing to be sneezed at. Sadly, your modest efforts don’t mean shit when measured against the terrifying productivity of Zadie Smith. Yes, it would appear that the award-winning author (and parent of two young children) was able to start, complete, and edit a brand new collection of essays, entitled Intimations, all within the past three months.
What do we know about this collection? Well, here’s what the folks at Penguin Press, which will publish Intimations on July 28 (2020!), are saying:
Written during the early months of lockdown, Intimations explores ideas and questions prompted by an unprecedented situation. What does it mean to submit to a new reality—or to resist it? How do we compare relative sufferings? What is the relationship between time and work? In our isolation, what do other people mean to us? How do we think about them? What is the ratio of contempt to compassion in a crisis? When an unfamiliar world arrives, what it does it reveal about the world that came before it?
Suffused with a profound intimacy and tenderness in response to these extraordinary times, Intimations clears a generous space for thought, open enough for each reader to reflect on what has happened—and what should come next.
Now to the million dollar question: Can a book written in such haste be any good? Well, Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying in a month and that was pretty good. Dostoyevsky wrote The Gambler in twenty-six days. Spike Lee wrote Do the Right Thing in two weeks. Bowie wrote “Life on Mars” in an afternoon. Some people are just efficient, ok?
In further welcome news, Smith also announced that she’ll be donating all royalties from the sale of the collection to charity.