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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 February 2005, 15:28 GMT
Smith to tackle 'young black men'
Zadie Smith
Zadie Smith's new book will be her third
Author Zadie Smith says her new novel is to feature many young black men - characters conspicuous by their absence from her first book, White Teeth.

Smith, who is of Caribbean origin, told BBC World Service's World Book Club programme the absence of black men in her hugely-acclaimed and popular debut novel had been noticeable - in particular because of the wide-ranging number of people from many ethnic backgrounds.

Among the characters in White Teeth were Samad Iqbal, an elderly immigrant from Bangladesh, and Irie - a young mixed race schoolgirl.

Meanwhile the central character of the follow-up, The Autograph Man, was a half-Chinese, half-Jewish professional autograph hunter.

"What is true is there are no black young men in White Teeth at all," Smith said.

"I did notice that - my brothers noticed it too. I can't say why - I guess my imagination just didn't lead me there.

"Maybe partly in that case, of all the experiences that are radically different from my own. Being a young black man would be so different it would be quite hard to imagine."

Hip-hop language

The book I'm writing now has several young black men in it, some of them American, and I'm really enjoying it
Zadie Smith
Smith said one of the difficulties of writing about the experiences of young black men was that they dealt with extremes of prejudice.

"I guess all of us would find it difficult to imagine what it's like for people to cross the street to avoid you. That's not a normal experience," she said.

"It's certainly one my brothers have had - I've never had that, people don't cross the street to avoid girls.

"So I do find it quite tough."

But she also stressed that her new, as yet untitled book would be tackling these characters.

"The book I'm writing now has several young black men in it, some of them American, and I'm really enjoying it," she added.

"Particularly the language part - some of the pidgin languages that have come up in the black male community, through hip-hop and other forms, are so elaborate, and so different from what you consider standard English, that it's a real challenge to try and convey them."


SEE ALSO
Sense of the City: London
01 Aug 03 |  UK
Defining moments: Zadie Smith
23 Jul 03 |  Entertainment
Smith shows teething problems
02 Oct 02 |  Entertainment
White Teeth sparkles on TV
17 Sep 02 |  Entertainment



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