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Campus Read 2021: Participate in Virtual Discussions on Select Works by Zadie Smith

by Maggie Rotermund on 09/13/2021
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Maggie Rotermund
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As part of the St. Louis Literary Award series of programs honoring the 2021 award recipient Zadie Smith, the 2021 Saint Louis University Campus Read Book Talk Series offers opportunities to explore the themes of Smith’s work.


Zadie Smith is the 2021 St. Louis Literary Award honoree. Photo by Dominique Nabokov. 

Smith is the author of the novels “White Teeth,” “The Autograph Man,” “On Beauty,” “NW,” and “Swing Time,” as well as essay collections “Changing My Mind” and “Feel Free.”

The Saint Louis University Library Associates will honor Smith with the annual St. Louis Literary Award at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4, at the Sheldon Concert Hall.

Register for the Literary Award Ceremony

She was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2002, and was listed as one of Granta’s 20 Best Young British Novelists in 2003 and again in 2013. “White Teeth” won multiple literary awards including the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Whitbread First Novel Award and the Guardian First Book Award. “On Beauty” was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Orange Prize for Fiction, and “NW” was shortlisted for the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction.

Smith is currently a tenured professor of fiction at New York University and a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Her latest work, “Intimations,” is a short series of reflective essays written during the early months of the COVID-19 lockdown. Intimations explores ideas and questions prompted by an unprecedented situation.

Grand Union by Zadie Smith

Saint Louis University launched the Campus Read in 2019 in conjunction with the St. Louis Literary Award. Before 2019, the University sponsored the Common First Year Read for incoming students.

Copies of Smith’s “Grand Union” are available free of charge to SLU students, faculty and staff at the front desk of each of SLU’s libraries: Pius, the Medical Center, Law Library and Madrid Campus Library.

The Campus Read Book talk series is open to the public with registration.

The series includes: 

Connections from a Caribbean Studies Perspective on the Work of Zadie Smith

This Zadie Smith Book Talk presentation is a Caribbean Studies perspective on Smith’s dynamic representations of space as a site of possibility, connecting histories and identities in “Grand Union” with references to other works, including “Intimations.”

The talk will be led by Marta Fernández Campa, Ph.D., Caribbean literature scholar at the University of East Anglia. 

The event will be held at 12 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21.

Beautiful Bound Bodies: The Ethics of Beauty and Elusive Justice 

This lecture takes on Zadie Smith’s 2005 novel, “On Beauty” and its name’s sake, Elaine Scarry’s “On Beauty and Being Just,” to unpack contemporary art and the covert role beauty plays in social justice efforts. Referencing such artworks as Amy Sherald’s portrait of Breonna Taylor and Kehinde Wiley’s Rumors of War, this lecture will problematize beauty, as both concrete and abstract, and its precarious capacity to imbue the marginalized body with civility, value, and power.

The talk will be led by TK Smith, Ph.D. candidate in the history of American Civilization at the University of Delaware.

The event will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28. 

Unnerving Women and Aging Drag Queens: Representations of Gender Variance and Alternate Sexualities in Zadie Smith’s “Grand Union”

This lecture explores Zadie Smith’s representations of gender variance, alternate sexualities, and gender nonconformity as possible markers of social change, sites of discomfort, and routes to access ancestral power in her short story collection, “Grand Union.”

The talk will be led by Katie Gutierrez, Ph.D. candidate in English at Saint Louis University.

The event will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 18. 

Transnationalism and Displacement in Zadie Smith’s “White Teeth” 

The talk will be led by Joya Uraizee, Ph.D., associate professor of English at Saint Louis University.

The event will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9.