The UK Times‘ John Dugdale tenders the latest evidence of Zadie Smith’s “beguiling penchant for self-deprecation”:
Zadie Smith chose her appearance on Radio 4’s Book Club, normally an opportunity for authors to graciously inhale praise, to dismiss White Teeth as a learner-writer’s blend of schoolgirl reading and stereotypes that ran out of steam. Now she has rubbished The Autograph Man, too: “I was trying to describe a consciousness that isn’t my own, which is probably why it comes off phony,” she tells Time Out, adding that she doesn’t “enjoy reading books about people like that”. Her publisher may wish to stop her giving interviews ahead of the third novel, in case she performs the hatchet job on herself before publication.
I sympathize with the second assessment, but reject the first. Despite a flawed final third, White Teeth should have won the Booker in 2000.