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Zadie Smith —
born on October 25, 1975,
Zadie Smith FRSL is an English novelist, essayist, and short story writer... (wikipedia)
In my situation, every time I write a sentence, I'm thinking not only of the people I ended up in college with but my siblings, my family, my school friends, the people from my neighborhood. I've come to realize that this is an advantage, really: it keeps you on your toes.
I never attended a creative writing class in my life. I have a horror of them; most writers groups moonlight as support groups for the kind of people who think that writing is therapeutic. Writing is the exact opposite of therapy.
My life is black and white and mixed. My mother's a Rastafarian, my dad was a short white guy - it's not an affectation. It's also the lives of millions of people throughout the world.
I think of reading like a balanced diet; if your sentences are too baggy, too baroque, cut back on fatty Foster Wallace, say, and pick up Kafka as roughage.
Cambridge was a joy. Tediously. People reading books in a posh place. It was my fantasy. I loved it. I miss it still.