Written during the early months of lockdown, Intimations explores ideas and questions prompted by an unprecedented situation. What does it mean to submit to a new reality--or to resist it? How do we compare relative sufferings? What is the relationship between time and work? In our isolation, what do other people mean to us? How do we think about them? What is the ratio of contempt to compassion in a crisis? When an unfamiliar world arrives, what does it reveal about the world that came before it?
Suffused with a profound intimacy and tenderness in response to these extraordinary times, Intimations is a slim, suggestive volume with a wide scope, in which Zadie Smith clears a generous space for thought, open enough for each reader to reflect on what has happened--and what should come next.
The author will donate her royalties from the sale of Intimations to charity.
"Intimations captures the uneasiness of our modern moment as Smith reflects on the COVID-19 pandemic and relates it to issues of privilege and inequity. Her urgent voice tackles everything from what becomes important during isolation to the global response to George Floyd's killing. The author asks questions, both timely and timeless, about how we respond to crisis and suffering." —TIME, Best New Books of July
"These days, I find in [Smith’s] work what I once found in Paley and Baldwin - a clarifying lucidity wedded to big-hearted moral awareness. These virtues shine through her powerful new collection, 'Intimations: Six Essays,’ which she began at the onset of the pandemic and finished shortly after Floyd's killing. Although only 100 pages, it made me think more than most books five times that length. There's something worth quoting on virtually every page… Smith does more than illuminate what we're going through right now. She offers a model of how to think ourselves through a fraught historical moment without getting hysterical or sanctimonious, without losing our compassion or our appreciation for what's good in other people. She teaches us how to be better at being human.” —John Powers, Fresh Air
“‘Intimations,’ [Smith’s] slender new collection (less than 100 pages) of ultra-timely essays (several written in the past few momentous months), showcases her trademark levelheadedness. This cast of mind doesn’t mean that Smith avoids moral stances. In ‘Intimations,’ she speaks clearly and forcefully about the murder of George Floyd and the legacy of slavery and the systemic sins revealed by Covid-19…But despite these jabs, Smith remains unmistakably noncombative. This spirit appears born not of a fear of confrontation but a genuine perplexity (of a searching, brilliant kind) at the nature of experience and people, including herself….Smith’s gifts as a novelist animate her essays…In Zadie Smith’s universe — meaning, for my money, the one we’re all living in — complexity is king.” —John Williams, The New York Times
“Slender, solacing…To read Zadie Smith is to recognize how few writers seem to genuinely love human beings the way she does, with such infinite curiosity and attention, even when they are behaving monstrously. Or, for that matter, how few are able to do justice to what, for want of a better term, we’ll call common decency.” —Laura Miller, Slate
“What a treat, then, that Zadie Smith has presented us with this jewel of a book, six essays all written at the beginning of lockdown, each generous, reliably insightful explorations of things like suffering, productivity, and love; all reminders of the kind of art people are capable of, even in the most dire of times.” —Refinery29
“Incisive and insightful . . . Smith is at her perceptive and precise best in this slim but thematically weighty volume of personal and civil reckoning.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“There will be innumerable books to come about life in the pandemic, but Zadie Smith is who we want to read right now . . . This will be essential reading for us now, and when we look back in the years to come.” —Town & Country, Best Books to Read This July
“Intimations captures the uneasiness of our modern moment as Smith reflects on the COVID-19 pandemic and relates it to issues of privilege and inequity. Her urgent voice tackles everything from what becomes important during isolation to the global response to George Floyd’s killing. The author asks questions, both timely and timeless, about how we respond to crisis and suffering.” —TIME, Best New Books of July
“An incisive collection . . . In just under 100 pages, Smith intimately captures the profundity of our current historical moment. Quietly powerful, deftly crafted essays bear witness to the contagion of suffering.” —Kirkus, starred review