On Beauty by Zadie Smith, 2006
Zadie Smith’s On Beauty won the Women’s Prize for Fiction in 2006, after her novels White Teeth and The Autograph Man were shortlisted in 2000 and 2003 respectively.
Set between New England and London, On Beauty is a brilliantly funny and deeply moving story about love and family that concerns a pair of feuding families - the Belseys and the Kipps - and a clutch of doomed affairs. It puts low morals among high ideals and asks some searching questions about what life does to love. For the Belseys and the Kipps, the confusions - both personal and political - of our uncertain age are about to be brought close to home: right to the heart of family.
Zadie Smith was born in north-west London in 1975. She is the author of the novels White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, NW and Swing Time, as well as The Embassy of Cambodia and the essay collections Changing My Mind and Intimations. She is also the editor of The Book of Other People, is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has twice been listed as one of Granta's 20 Best Young British Novelists. She has won the Women's Prize for Fiction, the Whitbread First Novel Award and the Guardian First Book Award among many others, and been shortlisted for the Booker Prize.
Zadie Smith said: 'Winning gave me a sense of stability and acceptance, but also a great desire to keep moving in a different direction. I suppose public acceptance makes me a feel a little nervous – and that’s a good thing. Anxiety and fear fuel creativity, at least in my case. It gave me confidence to move ahead.'