Zadie Smith Quotes

Every moment happens twice: inside and outside, and they are two different histories.

The last page of [Lincoln in the Bardo] – without giving too much away – involves somebody entering somebody else. Not in a sexual way. But it says one of the simplest things you could ever say, which is that we must try and be inside each other. We must have some kind of feeling for each other and enter into each other’s experience.

The past is always tense, the future perfect.


I am the sole author of the dictionary that defines me.

Time is how you spend your love.

Don’t live in a way that makes you feel dead.

Don’t romanticise your ‘vocation’. You can either write good sentences or you can’t. There is no ‘writer’s lifestyle’. All that matters is what you leave on the page.

Protect the time and space in which you write. Keep everybody away from it, even the people who are most important to you.

It’s gotten to a point where everybody is concerned about their rights and nobody is concerned about their duties.

If you’re going to write a good book, you have to make mistakes and you have to not be so cautious all the time.

The end is simply the beginning of an even longer story.

The secret to editing your work is simple: you need to become its reader instead of its writer.

You are never stronger…than when you land on the other side of despair.

The world is now multicultural the same way the world is round. It’s not a selling point, it’s not a ‘quirky’ feature, it’s not a cynical marketing ploy, it’s not an artistic statement, it’s not even a plot device. It’s a fact, like seedless grapes.

Don’t confuse honours with achievement.

But it makes an immigrant laugh to hear the fears of the nationalist, scared of infection, penetration, miscegenation, when this is small fry, peanuts, compared to what the immigrant fears – dissolution, disappearance.

But sometimes it’s like you just meet someone and you just know that you’re totally connected, and this person is, like, your brother – or your sister. Even if they don’t, like, recognize it, you feel it. And in a lot of ways it don’t matter if they do or they don’t see that for what it is – all you can do is put the feeling out there. That’s your duty. Then you just wait and see what comes back to you. That’s the deal.

The novel leads you places that you never could have gotten to otherwise.

People don’t settle for people. They resolve to be with them. It takes faith. You draw a circle in the sand and agree to stand in it and believe in it.I don’t ask myself what did I live for, said Carlene strongly. That is a man’s question. I ask whom did I live for.

Nowadays, I know the true reason I read is to feel less alone, to make a connection with a consciousness other than my own.

Desperation, weakness, vulnerability – these things will always be exploited. You need to protect the weak, ring-fence them, with something far stronger than empathy.

We are so convinced of the goodness of ourselves, and the goodness of our love, we cannot bear to believe that there might be something more worthy of love than us, more worthy of worship. Greeting cards routinely tell us everybody deserves love. No. Everybody deserves clean water. Not everybody deserves love all the time.

But surely to tell these tall tales and others like them would be to spread the myth, the wicked lie, that the past is always tense and the future, perfect.

Sometimes you get a flash of what you look like to other people.