Photo of Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith // "The idea we're given of that I should sit here and I should be entertained. And the more classical model, that has been completely taken away, is the idea of a reader as an amateur musician. An amateur musician sits at a piano, has a piece of music which is the work made by somebody they don't know, who they probably couldn't comprehend entirely, and they have to use their skills to play this piece of music. The greater the skill, the greater the gift that you give the artist and that the artist gives you... It takes all kinds of sensitivities...all kinds of different qualities to understand what is going on in that book, not just on the superficial level, its plot and character, but what it believes... And the complexity of that is a real education of the emotions and of the heart; and it's very hard to get that education elsewhere. Those procedures are vital. They're really important to becoming a human being. Becoming a human being isn't just something you get with your birth, it's an exercise and it takes your whole life."