Zadie Smith Takes Over New Books Column for Harper’s Magazine

Harper’s Magazine editor Ellen Rosenbush announced today that Zadie Smith will be taking over the magazines’ New Books column. “I think a good book review is a place to meet a book on its own terms, not as an ideological vehicle or an academic plaything,” Ms. Smith said in a release.

Ms. Smith follows Thomas Frank, who was named the magazine’s new Easy Chair columnist in August.

Here’s the release:

Harper’s Magazine Names Zadie Smith as New Books Columnist

New York City, September 20, 2010— Harper’s Magazine has announced
that Zadie Smith will write the magazine’s monthly New Books column.
Her first column will appear in the March 2011 issue. Smith replaces
Benjamin Moser, who began writing the column in May 2009, and Moser
will continue to write for the magazine as a contributing editor.

“From Jacques Barzun to Guy Davenport to John Leonard to Ben Moser,
New Books has always been one of the most agile and widely enjoyed
parts of the magazine,” said Ellen Rosenbush, editor of Harper’s.
“Although we’ll miss Ben’s take on recent releases, we are pleased to
be working with him on longer essays. Zadie is a tremendous talent and
we’re delighted to welcome her to the magazine.”

Gemma Sieff, editor of the Reviews section, said, “Zadie Smith’s
fiction and criticism reflect in equal measure her inventiveness,
formal dexterity, and formidable wit. Her perspectives on literature,
always wise and often surprising, make her an ideal inheritor of the
column and an inimitable addition to the magazine.”

“I think a good book review is a place to meet a book on its own
terms,” said Smith, “not as an ideological vehicle or an academic
plaything. Often people think of writing as primary and reading as the
lesser art; in my life it’s the other way around. When I write about
books I’m trying to honor reading as a creative act: as far as I’m
concerned the job is not simply to describe an end product but to
delineate a process, an intimate experience with a book which the
general reader understands just as well as the professional critic.”

Moser said, “It’s been great fun writing the New Books column and I’m
thrilled to be leaving it in the hands of such an outstanding writer
and critic. I look forward to continuing to work with Harper’s by
returning to long-form criticism, particularly of the visual arts.”

Smith is the author of three novels—White Teeth, The Autograph Man,
and On Beauty—and the essay collection Changing My Mind. She is the
editor of The Book of Other People, a collection of short stories. A
Londoner, Smith spends a part of each year in New York City, where she
is Professor of Creative Writing at New York University.

In other recent developments at the magazine, it was announced in
August that Thomas Frank will be joining Harper’s to write its monthly
Easy Chair column, which will replace the Notebook, beginning with the
December 2010 issue. The last Notebook column, which will appear in
the November issue, will be written by national correspondent and
editor emeritus Lewis H. Lapham, who introduced the Notebook in 1984.
Lapham will continue writing for the magazine on a regular basis.

Founded in 1850, Harper’s Magazine ( is the oldest
continuously published monthly in America. The magazine explores the
issues that drive the national conversation through such celebrated
features as Readings, Annotation, Findings, and the iconic Index.
Harper’s has received eighteen National Magazine Awards. The magazine
is owned and published by the Harper’s Magazine Foundation.

Zadie Smith Takes Over New Books Column for Harper’s Magazine