Writings of the general word's body

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Zadie Smith "hypocritical", book people say

Last week Zadie Smith said...
“Most literary prizes are only nominally about literature. They are really about brand consolidation for beer companies, phone companies, coffee companies and even frozen food companies.”
That was in her note explaining that, of the 850 entries to the Willesden Herald short story competition, none was good enough for the £5000 prize. Turns out the writers weren't the only ones scratching their heads.
The Sunday Times broke down Smith's comments thus
Although she does not name names, the prizes to which she is referring are clear from the types of company she mentions. The beer company must be Whitbread, which until 2006 ran the successful Whitbread book awards. Smith won its first novel prize in 2000 for White Teeth, which was then made into a Channel 4 drama series.
The phone company must be Orange. In 2006 Smith won its prize for fiction with On Beauty. It is a women-only award. The coffee company must be Costa, a division of Whitbread that sponsors a series of book awards. The overall Costa prize (there are also five category prizes) was won last month by A L Kennedy for her novel Day.
The frozen food company must be Iceland, which sponsored the Booker prize before Man, the hedge fund firm, took over.

And publishing figures have a thing or two to say about Smith's comments.
Ion Trewin, organiser of the Booker Prize: "Her remarks are absolutely ridiculous. Why has she been happy to accept money from these prizes and sponsors, whom she now attacks? And I’d also like to know if her publisher is going to put her forward in future for literary awards.”
Joanna Trollope: “Actually these prizes rescue some books which could simply end up on publishers’ slush piles. So Zadie Smith, whom I think is a good writer, is very wrong. Also, in an increasingly philistine country the more that art and commerce can and do come together, the better.”


  • The Telegraph said publishing figures have branded the author of White Teeth "hypocritical".

1 comment:

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

Wish to know what other awards the author have won since then. I'm currently reading White Teeth and was doing some search on the author. Thanks for this. Would have taken me some time