Writer and speaker Zadie Smith will deliver the 2013 Troy Lecture, presented by the UMass Amherst English Department. Titled “Why Write?”, Smith’s talk will focus on the merits of writing in the modern world, a topic that identifies with UMass Amherst’s commitment to strong foundational writing across campus and history of accomplished poets and authors among its alumni.
Smith carries on the legacy of esteemed literary speakers to visit UMass Amherst for the Troy Lecture. Past lecturers have included multiple Nobel Prize winners and other important contemporary literary figures, among them Sherman Alexie, Margaret Atwood, Judith Butler, J.M. Coetzee, Seamus Heaney, Salman Rushdie, and Wole Soyinka.
“These are the writers we teach in our classes,” says Prof. Jenny Spencer, Chair of the English Department. Spencer recalls when Nadine Gordimer spoke at the Troy in 1991, just one week after she won the Nobel Prize in Literature. “Given how distinguished our invited authors are, the Troy is a lecture series that our faculty rarely miss.”
Upon the release of her first novel, White Teeth (2000), Smith rocketed to literary stardom. Her vibrant portrait of contemporary multicultural London, told through the story of three ethnically diverse families won a number of awards and prizes, including the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread First Novel Award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize, and two BT Ethnic and Multicultural Media Awards (Best Book/Novel and Best Female Media Newcomer). White Teeth has been translated into over twenty languages and was adapted for television in 2002. Smith has written three subsequent novels and many essays, which have amassed additional accolades. Her most recent novel, NW (2012) was named as one of the New York Times “10 Best Books of 2012.”
The Troy Lecture is free and open to the public. Smith’s popularity ensures this event, traditionally well attended by alumni and Five College students, will fill quickly. Those interested in hearing the talk are encouraged to arrive early; doors to the Student Union Ballroom will open at 4 pm.