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Zadie Smith Talks Parenting: Are Two Kids Too Many?

Zadie Smith is one of those writers that, honestly, I had never heard of before embarking on this project. Yet, as I’ve read White Teeth and learned more about Smith, I’ve grown to respect her immensely, so much so that I’d love to somehow be able to interview her on this blog. Gotta try, at least, right?

Anyway, I’ll definitely be reading more of Zadie Smith’s work when this is finished. I love her writing style and witty humor.

Smith is the mother of two kids, and she took issue to an article written by journalist Lauren Sandler a couple of years ago in The Atlantic. The title of the piece? “The secret to being both a successful writer and a mother: have just one kid”


Sandler explained how many of the female writers she “revered” only had one child: Susan Sontag, Joan Didion, Mary McCarthy, Elizabeth Hardwick, Margaret Atwood.

She quotes Alice Walker, who said female artists “should have children – assuming this is of interest to them – but only one … Because with one you can move. With more than one you’re a sitting duck.”

Zadie Smith took issue with Sandler’s article and responded.

“I have two children. Dickens had 10 – I think Tolstoy did, too. Did anyone for one moment worry that those men were becoming too fatherish to be writeresque? Does the fact that Heidi Julavits, Nikita Lalwani, Nicole Krauss, Jhumpa Lahiri, Vendela Vida, Curtis Sittenfeld, Marilynne Robinson, Toni Morrison and so on and so forth (I could really go on all day with that list) have multiple children make them lesser writers?” said Smith. “Are four children a problem for the writer Michael Chabon – or just for his wife, the writer Ayelet Waldman?”

Smith added that the real threat “to all women’s freedom is the issue of time, which is the same problem whether you are a writer, factory worker or nurse”.

“We need decent public daycare services, partners who do their share, affordable childcare and/or a supportive community of friends and family,” she wrote. “As for the issue of singles v multiples v none at all, each to their own! But as the parent of multiples I can assure Ms Sandler that two kids entertaining each other in one room gives their mother in another room a surprising amount of free time she would not have otherwise.”

Game. Set. Match. Zadie Smith wins.

I don’t really see how the amount of children a female author has affects said author’s work in any way. As Smith points out, does anyone care how many kids a male author has? Nope.

One. Two. Three Kids. To each his/her own.

More at The Guardian. 

Image: Wikimedia Commons

14 Comments Post a comment
  1. a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write – Virginia Woolf

    i have 2 kids and alone time is hard but when a writer writes everyone gets locked out of the room – i agree with Smith

    Liked by 1 person

    July 9, 2015
  2. Anita Kushwaha #

    Loved reading this. I’m a huge fan of Smith too. Thanks for sharing.


    July 9, 2015
  3. Reblogged this on oshriradhekrishnabole.


    July 9, 2015
  4. Bravo to Ms. Smith. I wonder as the days go by what other incredibly unfounded statments we will hear! A well-disciplined child can give mom time to write, too. But two or more entertaining each other has always been the routine in my home. A mom’s biggest obstacle in writing is time, because moms care for their children and they usually come before other things. The answer is simple to me: We need more than 24 hours in a day! (LOL).


    July 9, 2015
  5. Reblogged this on Entry Level Post and commented:
    Agree. Two kids can entertain themselves very well if given the opportunity, which leaves some time for mom to write. Personally, I write with my kids, lay out large papers, crayons, markers, and we go to work 🙂


    July 9, 2015
  6. As with any true writer; it is the love of writing that trumps everything else. The number of children, the number of partners (relationships), the time of day, the number of teeth you have missing, and with voice technologies of today even the number of fingers you have are all ineffective deterrents when you have an infective desire to write. if anything multiple children may even produce more subject matter for some. I agree with Zadie and her intelligence has now made me a little more curious about reading more of her works.


    July 9, 2015
  7. I think I want Zadie Smith to be my spirit animal.


    July 9, 2015
  8. Simone Kafka #

    Reblogged this on COSATECA.


    July 10, 2015
  9. Here’s my advice to any woman who wants to be a writer: don’t listen to anyone’s advice.


    July 10, 2015
  10. Two kids are enough


    August 5, 2015
  11. Poor babies. winter full of love …))


    August 24, 2015
  12. I love Smith, is a big fan Smith..hah


    August 27, 2015

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