Zadie Smith on Our Pres(id)ent Condition by jfbeardsley
February 23, 2009, 4:11 pm
Filed under: other peoples' genius | Tags: , , , ,

O'Hara tombstone

I’ve seen this making various rounds, but in case it’s not yet fallen to your watchful eyes (or ears), this lecture by Zadie Smith, given at the New York Public Library a few weeks ago is pretty spectacular.

Published in a recent issue of the New York Review of Books, the talk is ostensibly about Obama and the idea of many-voicedness (yes, a word, albeit hyphenated). But with astonishing sweep and elan, the author of White Teeth and On Beauty wends her way through (among plenty of others) Pygmalion, plainsong, the gunpowder plot, Shakespeare, and Frank O’Hara on her way to an elegant deconstruction of the Voice and the Word.

Do yourself a favor. Read it here, or listen to it here. If you’ve got a minute or a train ride or an hour to fill, hearing Smith’s delivery is definitely worth the download.