Despite Smith’s literary success, not only is she still young, but since publishing her first novel she has become both rich and extremely famous. White Teeth not only attracted great critical attention, but was nominated for and won a number of awards and prizes: the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best First Book), the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread First Novel Award, and additionally two EMMAs (or BT Ethnic and Multicultural Media Awards) for Best Book/Novel and Best Female Media Newcomer. It was also short-listed for the Author’s Club First Novel Award, the Orange Prize for Fiction, and the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. The very breadth of Smith’s novels and stories, particularly their intellectual and aesthetic points of reference (however one judges the success of such engagements) suggest that any autobiographical account of Smith must involve certain complexities, one being the relationship of her upbringing to her writing and identity, another being her own view of both her fiction and the fame it has attracted. She seems not to have anticipated such celebrity, and certainly its surprising and often perverse qualities are very much a central subject of her second novel which is set against a backdrop of north London suburban normality (albeit with the usual oddities and quiddities of urban life).
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