NPR Choice pageSmith is now an insistently transatlantic writer, dividing her life between New York and Queens Park in London. These pieces were written during the eight years of the Obama administration, and therefore largely in the time — which, alarmingly, starts to look like a relatively rational period — of coalition government in the UK. There is only one mention of Donald Trump in the book; Theresa May does not get a look in. Though they might not have felt such at the time, these are missives from a gentler, more hopeful age. Another attraction of this golden time is that hers was the very last generation in human history that grew up with the printed rather than the digital page. Both in practice and in spirit Smith makes a vivid case for the importance of bookish culture, even as she sometimes fears it is a valediction. She is a rigorous and often inspired reader — writing with equal acuity about, say, Ursula K Le Guin or Hanif Kureishi.
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