Zadie Smith’s commanding collection Grand Union puts our contemporary lives and mores under the microscope. She sets her sights on the insanity (and inanity) of social media, the internet, and ‘call-out culture’, but leaves room to consider the tensions inherent in post-colonial nations, including race, gender, and sexuality.
Smith, born in London to a Jamaican mother and British father, has spent a decade as a professor of fiction at New York University. She is known for her mastery of the novel, including On Beauty (shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2005) and Swing Time (longlisted for the same prize in 2017), however Grand Union is her first full-length short story collection. Not that Smith is new to the short form: at least seven of the nineteen pieces in the collection have been published before, many of them in The New Yorker between 2013 (‘Meet the President!’) and 2018 (‘Now More Than Ever’).