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Thursday, 7 December, 2000, 22:39 GMT
Smith takes first book prize
Zadie Smith at the Orange awards earlier this year
Zadie Smith was the only UK writer shortlisted
Zadie Smith has scooped a major literary title for newcomers by winning the Guardian First Book Award.

Smith, 25, won the award for her novel White Teeth, about the fortunes of families in Willesden, north-west London.

She was presented with the 10,000 award by Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger and comic David Baddiel at a dinner in London's Great Eastern Hotel.

The Guardian award is her first major prize.

Smith was up for the Orange Prize for fiction and the Whitbread First Novel Award earlier this year, but missed out on both.

There was widespread surprise in literary circles when Smith was not shortlisted for this year's Booker prize.

'Feisty, funny'

Judges praised the novel for its "muscular prose style" and "beautifully-drawn characters", calling it a "sensationally good novel" which was "feisty, funny, satirical, and tender".

She was the only Briton on the shortlist of five writers.

She beat United States authors Mark Z Danielewski, Dave Eggers and Andrew X Pham and Canadian Naomi Klein.

Judges included novelist Julian Barnes, Baddiel and broadcaster Kirsty Young.

The award aims to recognise and reward new writing in fiction and non-fiction.

Readers at Borders Books shops in London, York, Cheshire Oaks and Glasgow helped choose the shortlist.

Zadie Smith first sprang to public attention three years ago when her first novel was bought by a publisher based on just 80 completed pages.

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