Did you read the new Zadie Smith this weekend? And did you LISTEN to Zadie Smith reading her own words this weekend?
There’s a new book of photographs taken by Jerry Dantzic coming out next month of Billie Holiday. Zadie’s piece Crazy They Call Me, imagined in the voice of Billie Holiday, serves as the introduction to the collection. Zadie tells The New Yorker how the pictures inspired the writing and why, even though the photographs were taken two years before Billie Holiday’s death, Zadie chose to conclude the essay with references to the end of her life – because she couldn’t interpret Billie’s voice “without acknowledging the malevolence that snuffed it out”.
Zadie is a singer. (Because it’s not enough that she’s one of the great writers of her generation!) And she talks about how she used to do Billie Holiday impressions – as recently as last fall, doing Easy Living at a New York Times dinner:
A revelation! The amazing British writer Zadie Smith unexpectedly singing ( beautifully) at T magazine's (New York Times Style Magazine) dinner for its "TGreats" issue, for which she is one of the seven covers. This evening in the Bemelmans bar of the Carlyle Hotel. The same venue where the legendary jazz pianist and singer Bobby Short used to perform . #writer #zadiesmith #tmagazine #tgreats #bemelmansbar @Tmagazine
And she might be an actor too. The New Yorker published Crazy They Call Me in their latest issue with an audio file in the online edition featuring Zadie reading her piece in the mind of Billie Holiday. My recommendation is to read Crazy They Call Me first and then go back and listen. The nuances in her writing become even more pronounced – click here for more.
Yours in gossip,