Book Slam presents Zadie Smith reading from her new novel, NW
An eager audience filled the wood-panelled hall at The Tabernacle in Notting Hill in anticipation of author Zadie Smith’s appearance. The event, which sold out quickly, was curated by the popular people at Book Slam (‘London’s best literary night club’), and promised a mix of readings, music and comedy.
Young writer Ben Masters kicked things off with a short story before the Book Slam boss Patrick Neate gave a gushing introduction to Zadie Smith, who was welcomed onstage to rapturous applause. Zadie shot to fame in 2000 with the release of her debut novel, White Teeth, and her third novel On Beauty (2005) confirmed her as one of the most original and best British writers around. She didn’t disappoint. She coolly read a section from her new novel, NW, giving us a glimpse of the sparkling dialogue and characterisation she’s renowned for. The excerpt focused on a melange of voices involved in the crescendo of an incident at a North London playground. It was witty and sharp, as well as being effectively tantalising (my copy’s now on order).
This was followed by some curious programming – Zadie’s appearance (her sheer popularity as well as her reading) had created a real buzz, and following it with the spacey sounds of Roger Robinson and the drifting, earnest music of Piers Faccini zapped the energy from the room. The breaks between the sections in the programme also felt too long, and the evening could have used more momentum.
However, Doc Brown (who happens to be Zadie’s younger brother) later picked the energy back up with his reliably funny comedy/rap routine, and the audience were then rewarded for their patience with another appearance by Zadie herself. As she admitted, it’s not easy to follow a comedian with a book reading, but she pulled it off, captivating us with another skilful character portrait.
Book Slam’s worthy aim is to get people supporting live literature, and they certainly achieve this with their sell-out events which always feature interesting guests. Each event seems to take on its own character and form, so you never quite know what to expect, and it’s all for a very reasonable ticket price. This one may have lacked a little momentum but was still well received, and Zadie is absolutely worth catching if you can see her reading live.
Zadie Smith’s novel, NW, is available now in hard back. To purchase the novel, click here for the Amazon store.
Kindle edition set for release on 6th September 2012.
For more information about Book Slam click here.
Book Slam’s next event is on 27th September and features Simon Armitage. For more information, click here.