What Makes a Good Writer? (originally written by Zadie Smith)

Illustration by Garrincha

Writing as inauthenticity

Here is another novelist, in another email, answering the question: “How would you define literary failure?”

“I was once asked by a high-school student in an audience in Chennai: ‘Why, sir, are you so eager to please?’ That’s how I tend to define failure — work done for what Heidegger called “Das Mann”, the