We don't usually look to Black women's lit for jokes, bioethics, or for those narrative schools known as the picaresque, the postmodern, or the encyclopedic. It's not like these absences arise from a lack of mordant wit or from an inability to unspool a shambolic story about the meaning of existence (think of Scheherazade, think J, think of Gayl Jones and Lauryn Hill). Actually, it's only because we've been waiting for Zadie Smith, now 24, who has composed as gut-busting and auspicious a debut... More >>>
By photo: Roderick Field
Wunderkind Zadie Smith: Imagine Charlie Parker with a typewriter, Coltrane with a laptop.