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

Illustration by Garrincha

Do writers have duties?

All this talk of authenticity, of betrayal, presupposes a duty — an obligation that the writers and readers of literature are under. It is deeply unfashionable to conceive of such a thing as a literary duty what that might be, how we might fail to fulfill it. Duty is not a very literary term. These days, when we do speak of literary…