Zadie Smith burst onto the fiction scene in 1999 with her acclaimed best-seller White Teeth. Since then she’s authored five more books, including her latest, Swing Time. Smith comes to Cincinnati as the keynote speaker at The Mercantile Library’s annual Niehoff Lecture, the city’s most highly anticipated literary event. Recent Niehoff alums include historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, author and New York Times columnist David Brooks, novelist Ann Patchett, and Lyndon Johnson biographer Robert Caro. Smith’s presence at the Niehoff’s 30th anniversary lecture is a milestone: She is the first woman of color to take the podium.
The Niehoff Lecture always carries with it a bit of Mad Men glamour. Maybe it’s the black ties and the dressy dresses, the cocktails before dinner, or the local illuminati sprinkled around the tables of the Westin’s Presidential Ballroom. But it is surely the audacity of celebrating writers that seems like a throwback to an era when books, rather than posts, were the most vital part of our cultural consciousness. Then there is the global allure of Smith herself, which zaps some youthful energy into the Niehoff’s traditionally august roster.
Nov 4, mercantilelibrary.com