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What Were You Doing When You Were 24?

Zadie Smith wrote a novel.

And said novel, White Teeth, wasn’t just a novel she threw together, got some clip art for the cover, and self-published on Amazon.

White Teeth is a novel that won countless awards when it was published in 2000, including The James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Whitbread Book Award in category for first novel, the Guardian First Book Award, the Commonwealth Writers First Book Prize, the Betty Trask Award, and–oh, yeah–the novel was placed on that little thing called the All-Time 100 novels list in 2005.

This was her first novel. I repeat…her first novel! 

Smith reportedly received a 250,000 pound (how do you make the British “pound” sign?) advance for the novel. That’s unheard of. A first-time novelist receiving that kind of advance?

When I was 24, I had just dropped out of law school and was floating around the western parts of the United States trying to “find my calling” in a run down Isuzu Rodeo and a Visa in my pocket. And here we have amazing writers like Zadie Smith and Carson McCullers (she was 23) who go out and write incredible novels.

Today, Zadie Smith is 39 and the author of six novels and a collection of short stories. She’s done pretty well for herself, that Zadie Smith.

I’ll be reviewing White Teeth within the next week, and I must tell you guys that I absolutely loved this novel. Loved it.

Now, let’s all be envious of Zadie Smith and reflect on what losers we were at age 24.

Read a thorough profile of Smith at The Guardian. 

Image: Wikimedia Commons

 

 

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20 Comments Post a comment
  1. Wasn’t Mary Shelley 17 when she wrote Frankenstein? 24 seems over the hill in comparison 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    July 7, 2015
  2. Wow, a £250,000 advance for a first novel? That’s amazing! I haven’t read any of Zadie Smith’s work, although I’ve heard a lot about her. I look forward to reading your review.

    By the way, the pound sign is above the 3 on my QWERTY keyboard.

    Like

    July 7, 2015
  3. At 24, I was happy if I had ramen in the cupboard.

    Like

    July 7, 2015
  4. I’m 25 now. Growing up I though I’d have published my first award-winning novel before my 21st birthday. I haven’t even written a novel, nevermind an award-winning one.
    P.S: haven’t read White Teeth… hope your review will convince me!

    Liked by 1 person

    July 7, 2015
  5. Reblogged this on themonkseal.

    Like

    July 7, 2015
  6. Okay, guys. Quit feeling sorry for yourselves. Bram Stoker, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Frank McCourt (Angela’s Ashes), Harriett Doerr (Stones for Ibarra), Richard Adams (Watership Down), Isak Dinesen, and Charles Bukowski are just a few who were over 50 when they published their first novels. Sure. There are quite a few who had their first novel published in their twenties or even earlier. But I think that the average novelist begins to publish when she is in her forties. Up till that time, we are out living our lives. A recent favorite of mine, F. X. Toole, author of the story on which “Million Dollar Baby”, was in his sixties when his book of short stories came out. He already had a career in boxing.
    So don’t give up. If you’ve got a novel in you, write it. Forget about all those young’uns. When it comes to writing a novel, there is only one talent required. The seat of your pants in a chair churning out story.

    Liked by 6 people

    July 7, 2015
    • KellyZ #

      Awesome insight, Don!! Thank you for that. I wasn’t able to finish a short story when I was 24, but what I write now has more perspective and depth than anything I could have written then.

      Liked by 1 person

      July 8, 2015
  7. I’m currently 24 and writing my first novel. Is this a hint of what my near future looks like…? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    July 7, 2015
  8. Sun's Shadow #

    Reblogged this on Rockets Into Reality.

    Like

    July 7, 2015
  9. When I was 24 I was drinking and out dancing way too much!

    Like

    July 7, 2015
  10. Stephen McDaniel #

    Up to my ass in flak.

    Like

    July 7, 2015
  11. Well….but stories like hers are far and few in between! Most of us have many things to go through and years to do it in. Plus you were not a loser.

    Like

    July 7, 2015
  12. Reblogged this on oshriradhekrishnabole.

    Like

    July 8, 2015
  13. After I was read all this prizes what she was got, I wish to read this novel…

    Like

    July 8, 2015
  14. I liked White Teeth. For a first novel, it is very good. The only thing I did not like about it is at times the writing was a bit forced and I heard the author coming through a little too much, if that makes sense. In those moments, I was drawn out of the story. When I consider that this was her first novel, that makes a whole lot more sense, and I think I can’t let that go. 😉 She’s brilliant.

    Like

    July 8, 2015
  15. Nice.

    Like

    July 8, 2015
  16. uju #

    I am 24 and building a career in business 🙂

    Like

    July 8, 2015
  17. 24? Hmmmmm. I gotta think on that one. I think that was when I got tired of my restaurant job and quit with no idea of what to do next. No, that was when I was 23. I started working at Wal-Mart when I was 24….with no idea of what to do next. Hmmm….. I see a pattern there.

    Like

    July 9, 2015
  18. art… anyway

    Like

    July 10, 2015
  19. At 24 I was in the middle of grad school. That was a pretty dark period as far as self-esteem and trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. There was a bit of a bright spot that summer, though, as I was working in my first aerospace job which ended up being an enjoyable career field for me for a good long time.

    I have never entertained any thoughts of becoming a novelist. That would just require too much concentrated effort for way too long. And at 24 it was all I could do to scrape by with the minimum amount of studying in particular and school work in general, which is why I barely passed with a 3 point something GPA upon receiving my MBA at 25.

    I have always enjoyed writing shorter pieces, like poem and essays. Those represent about the most work I want to put into anything now that I’m 60. So far I’ve only done a few, in classes and blog posts. I’m conserving my energy to compose a few more. Just don’t hold your breath till I do!

    Like

    July 18, 2015

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