Magazine October 14, 2019, Issue

Zadie Smith’s New Short-Story Collection Dazzles and Disappoints

Zadie Smith in London, June 6, 2006 (Luke MacGregor/Reuters)
Grand Union: Stories, by Zadie Smith (Penguin Press, 256 pp., $27)

Here’s a riddle. What is simultaneously the most exciting thing to tell someone and the most boring to hear about? A dream. The interesting sort is your own. And the kind that evoke politely muffled yawns are those belonging to other people. Really. When was the last time you heard someone say “I had the weirdest dream last night” and you responded with something other than a sardonic, “Oh?”

Reading Zadie Smith’s latest short-story collection, Grand Union, is like listening to hour upon hour of tales about someone else’s dreams. The stories are well written because Smith is a terrific writer.

This article appears as “Dull Dreams” in the October 14, 2019, print edition of National Review.

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