Zadie Smith’s ‘Intimations’, like all her other writing, did not disappoint. These six short essays explore her deeply personal thoughts and observations made during the first lockdown in response to such unprecedented times. Smith’s writing is sharp, intelligent and thought-provoking. Her musings on suffering, young people and why authors write, were particularly engaging and insightful.
My favourite essay was ‘contempt as a virus,’ in which Smith compares contempt to the coronavirus pandemic. Her references to certain people such as, Dominic Cummings and George Floyd, are very compelling insofar as she illustrates the contemptuous attitudes of those in power towards their supposed inferiors. What I found particularly striking about this book was her use of the powerful simile that structural racism is, “the virus, in its most lethal manifestation.” Her observation that contempt is just as widespread as Covid-19 and that it can also have deadly consequences is both perceptive and arrestingly despondent.
This book is an excellent means of pondering over the events of 2020 and our own individual experiences and emotions of such a precarious time.
Reviewed by Sarah Doyle