Navigating the Landscape of Contemporary Culture: A Deep Dive into “Feel Free: Essays by Zadie Smith”

“Feel Free: Essays” is a captivating collection of thought-provoking essays by the acclaimed author Zadie Smith. Published in 2018, this anthology showcases Smith’s unparalleled ability to blend sharp observation, cultural critique, and personal reflection. In this comprehensive exploration, we’ll delve deep into the pages of “Feel Free,” examining its themes, insights, and literary significance to uncover the profound impact it has on readers’ understanding of contemporary culture.


“Feel Free” is divided into five sections, each containing a selection of essays that explore different aspects of contemporary life and culture. From reflections on art and literature to meditations on politics and identity, the essays offer readers a wide-ranging exploration of the complexities of the modern world. As editor of this collection, Zadie Smith brings her distinctive voice, keen intellect, and deep empathy to bear on a diverse array of topics, inviting readers to engage with the ideas and issues that shape our society.


  1. Art and Literature: Many of the essays in “Feel Free” revolve around Smith’s reflections on art, literature, and the creative process. She discusses her own experiences as a writer, as well as her thoughts on the works of other artists and the role of art in society.
  2. Politics and Society: Smith is not afraid to engage with political and social issues in her writing, and “Feel Free” includes essays that touch on topics such as Brexit, the Black Lives Matter movement, and the legacy of Barack Obama’s presidency. She offers incisive commentary on contemporary events and trends, challenging readers to think critically about the world around them.
  3. Identity and Race: As a writer of mixed-race heritage, Smith often grapples with questions of identity, race, and cultural belonging. She explores these themes in several essays, offering insights into her own experiences and observations on broader issues of race and ethnicity.
  4. Technology and Social Media: Smith also examines the impact of technology and social media on contemporary life, reflecting on the ways in which these forces shape our relationships, our sense of self, and our understanding of the world.
  5. Pop Culture and Celebrity: From discussions of film and television to musings on celebrity culture, “Feel Free” offers readers a window into the world of pop culture and its influence on society.

Literary Style:

Zadie Smith’s writing style in “Feel Free” is marked by its clarity, wit, and elegance. She is a masterful essayist, capable of blending personal reflection, cultural critique, and intellectual inquiry with precision and grace. Her prose is at once accessible and erudite, engaging readers with its intelligence and insight while also inviting them into her world of thought and imagination.

Critical Reception:

“Feel Free” received widespread critical acclaim upon its release, with reviewers praising Smith’s intellect, wit, and eloquence. Critics lauded the collection for its breadth of subjects, its depth of analysis, and its ability to provoke thought and conversation. Many readers found resonance in Smith’s reflections on contemporary culture and society, appreciating her ability to illuminate complex ideas with clarity and insight.


“Feel Free” stands as a testament to Zadie Smith’s talent and versatility as a writer. The collection offers readers a rich tapestry of ideas and observations, inviting them to engage with a wide range of topics and perspectives. With its blend of personal reflection, cultural commentary, and literary analysis, “Feel Free” continues to resonate with readers and critics alike, cementing Smith’s reputation as one of the most important voices in contemporary literature.

In conclusion, “Feel Free: Essays” is a captivating and thought-provoking collection that showcases Zadie Smith’s intellect, wit, and insight. Through her reflections on art, literature, politics, and culture, Smith invites readers into her world of thought and imagination, challenging them to reconsider their assumptions and expand their horizons. Whether discussing the role of the artist in society, the impact of technology on our lives, or the complexities of identity and race, Smith’s essays offer readers a compelling journey through the landscapes of the mind and the heart.

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