ELLE: Hi Zadie, long time. How have you been?
Zadie Smith: Okay. In the middle of my life, so sometimes totally insane and other times strangely at peace.
ELLE: Congratulations on Grand Union. Were you contemplating writing a book of short stories, or did this just happen by chance as you kept writing?
ZS: My editor suggested it, and sent me a file of all the short stories I’d ever written. I read through that file and hated almost everything. So that started me on the path of, “Shall I ditch the idea or can I add to the stories I like, until I end up with a book I’m proud of?” I went for the second option. It was fortuitous timing, too. I hadn’t written anything since June because of the school holidays, and now it was September and I had some time and my fingers were itching. I have to say I loved writing the new stories. I think I had a better time writing this book than any other. It reminded me of when I started writing as a teenager: the same joy, felicity, playfulness, and sense of mischief.
ELLE: Grand Union is a discerning chronicler of our times. It explores race, Brexit, modern lust, complicated women— how long did it take you to put the collection together? Is it harder writing a short story as opposed to a novel or novella? Which one took you the most time to complete?
ZS: I thi