“I’d never do it again. At the time I couldn’t really explain why I had done it. Now, in retrospect, I can see it was an act of tribute, and also a goodbye: a way of laying to rest the influences that dominated me as a child, which were quite conservative literary influences.”
That’s Zadie Smith talking about her last novel, On Beauty, in which she paid homage to EM Forster’s Howards End. (Not, as someone said the other day, Howards’ Way.)
It casts an illuminating light on the more experimental aspects of NW – “experimental” being a word for which Smith has little time (“Better to speak of individual writers”).
And here is Smith on experimental (sorry, individual) writing in her Two Paths for the Novel review of Joseph O’Neill’s Netherland and Tom McCarthy’s Remainder in the New York Review of Books (likewise reprinted in Changing My Mind).
Now, back to NW with you.