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Grand Union: Stories by [Zadie Smith]
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Grand Union: Stories Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 268 ratings

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Editorial Reviews Review

An Amazon Best Book of October 2019: Although she has had a nearly twenty-year career, this is Zadie Smith’s first short story collection. One of the things readers will notice about it is the impressive scope of Smith’s writing. There is a broad and diverse cast of characters in these stories. There is urban realism, speculative fiction, and many degrees between. There is playfulness and precision. Of the nineteen stories in Grand Union, eleven are new; the majority of the others appeared in The New Yorker. And despite the range, Zadie Smith’s voice—the intelligence and insight, the control of language—are always evident. This is a satisfying, memorable collection by a talented author teeming with ideas. --Chris Schluep, Amazon Book Review
Editors' pick: Zadie Smith’s voice—the intelligence and insight, the control of language—is always evident in this satisfying, memorable collection."—Chris Schluep, Amazon Editor


“Zadie Smith is fearless. Her first short story collection, ‘Grand Union,’ is a soup of contradictions served up with flair. She experiments with form, with language, with conjecture, with the absurd. Tidbits of autofiction, and dashes of speculative fiction are mixed together and seasoned with current events… This is Smith at her best, integrating a compelling story line with perceptiveness and social commentary.” — The Washington Post
“‘Grand Union’ is an unusual creature, combining all the experimental exuberance of a writer discovering a form with the technical prowess of one at the height of her abilities. The result is exhilarating. Between the covers of one book, readers will find such disparate forms as allegory, parable, speculative thriller and satire, as well as shorter incarnations of Smith’s characteristic social comedy…Smith’s voracious intellect is on full display. With vitality and wit, she shuttles between the philosophical universal and the intensely local — a movement formally realized in stories like ‘Two Men Arrive in a Village’ — between the world and the self…It is a delight to watch Smith play.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“Thrillingly, the best work in ‘Grand Union’ is some of the newest. Among its previously unpublished stories and the two most recently published ones, we find the surreal, the nonlinear, the essayistic, the pointillist…Several stories take a mosaic approach, juxtaposing disparate scenes — in one case, venues around New York City involving music — into a brilliant whole. The effect, appropriately, is rather like instrumental improvisation…[‘Grand Union’] contains some of Smith’s most vibrant, original fiction, the kind of writing she’ll surely be known for. Some of these stories provide hints that everything we’ve seen from her so far will one day be considered her ‘early work,’ that what lies ahead is less charted territory, wilder and less predictable.”—Rebecca Makkai, The New York Times Book Review
“There’s no mistaking the voice, with its mix of assurance and conditionality…Here we see Smith is at her finest, when she reveals what we recognize but do not say. The strength of ‘Grand Union’ is the way such a sensibility informs these incidental pieces. This is the frisson that drives her writing, the balance between humor and self-laceration that cannot help but extend to us as well.” —David L. Ulin, Los Angeles Times

“Delightful…the tales will stay with you long after you’ve closed the book.” —

“An enchanting collection that examines the complexity of contemporary life. This book of short stories, the author’s first, refuses to define itself as any one thing.  Instead, Smith allows each story to take on a tone, genre and life of its own…This wild ride that Smith takes readers on is a delight to experience. Her characters are vivid and unique, as are her observations about the state of the world.”—Associated Press
“A varied and modern collection, suffused with Smith’s powers of observation and literary prowess.”—USA Today, 5 Books Not to Miss
“Nothing so obvious as a single subject or theme links the 19 stories in Smith’s first collection of short fiction, Grand Union. Nothing beyond a virtuosity for the form, a powerful imagination, and, as in her five novels and two essay collections, a striking empathy for her characters. But the best stories contained here, the stories that will whiplash readers into cycles of heartbreak, hope, and more heartbreak are those, like ‘Two Men,’ that illustrate the intrusions, whether grand or diminutive, that disrupt the days, the family circles, the very unions we all hold dear.”—The A.V. Club
“Just as Feel Free, her NBCC-winning collection of nonfiction last year, made it clear that Zadie Smith is our best living critic, Grand Union will make it apparent she’s also one of our finest short story writers, too. Assembling tales from the past two decades with ten brand new ones, Grand Union showcases a huge range of effects, from lyric elegy to high satire and even farce. The compression and swiftness of these tales are opposite skills to the ones Smith has plied in her five, wondrously different novels. Yet to watch these tales unfold is to feel a gladness that only virtuosity—and emotional depth—can ignite.”—John Freeman, Literary Hub

“[Smith’s] first-ever story collection, Grand Union, offers yet another kaleidoscopic display of her singular sophistication. In these stories (more than half of them previously unpublished), Smith’s compositions—rife with ambivalence, in love with ideas, witty and mordant—echo in the head long after the last word…As a whole, Grand Union stands as a glittering affirmation of Smith’s virtuosity and range.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

“A pithy collection of stories that showcases [Smith’s] many strengths. The best of these are tightly coiled, multilayered, rich in description and tangentially topical… [Her best characters] are starkly, brilliantly individuated, and to watch them encounter one another is to be held rapt…Smith is exceptionally skilled at depicting the way people see one another, and frequently misunderstand what they see.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“A virtuoso performance.” –

“[The stories] ricochet between, among other settings, 1950s London and modern-day Manhattan. But each demonstrates that Smith continues to be among the most observant voices working today.” —Elle

“It feels fitting…that [Smith’s] first short-story collection is as eclectic as it is…Taken all together, the book does feel like a kind of grand union: the lucky synthesis of everything swirling inside Smith’s big, beautiful brain.” —Leah Greenblatt, Entertainment Weekly

“These masterful tales impress, engage and occasion¬ally infuriate as Smith brings her dazzling wit and acute sensitivity to bear… All genres are Smith’s to play with.” —BookPage (starred review) 

 “Fury, heartbreak, and drollery collide in masterfully crafted prose that ranges in effect from the exquisitely tragic lyricism of Katherine Mansfield to the precisely calibrated acid bath of Jamaica Kincaid as Smith demonstrates her unique prowess for elegant disquiet.” —Booklist (starred review)

“A gorgeous mix of genres and perspectives.” —New York Post, The Fall Books Everyone is Talking About

“All provocative, incisive, and revealing Smith's prodigious talent, which she refuses to limit to any singular genre or subject, instead choosing to range from dystopia to realism, offering sly commentary on the lives we live today, and what might be in store for our futures.” —NYLON, The 34 Books You'll Want To Read This Fall
Grand Union applies [Smith’s] sharp skills of observation and her playful wit…The virtuoso Smith doesn’t stick to one genre. Dystopia and horror sit adjacent to historical fiction in this energetic collection. Her fans will appreciate her rigorous engagement with identity, class, family and place.”—New York Observer, The Must-Read New Books of Fall

“Nineteen erudite stories wheel through a constellation of topics, tones, and fonts to dizzying literary effect…Wit marbles Smith’s fiction…Several of Smith’s stories are on their ways to becoming classics.” —Kirkus (starred review)

“Smart and bewitching…The modern world is refracted in ways that are both playful and rigorous, formally experimental and socially aware…Smith exercises her range without losing her wry, slightly cynical humor. Readers of all tastes will find something memorable in this collection.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B07MCRHH6S
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Penguin Books (October 8, 2019)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ October 8, 2019
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 890 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 256 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.3 out of 5 stars 268 ratings

Customer reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5
268 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on October 14, 2019
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Reviewed in the United States on October 22, 2019
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Reviewed in the United States on December 27, 2019
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Reviewed in the United States on February 18, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on May 20, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on October 25, 2019
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Reviewed in the United States on November 27, 2019
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Reviewed in the United States on November 17, 2019
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Top reviews from other countries

Ed, North London
2.0 out of 5 stars Bland Union?
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 17, 2020
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2 people found this helpful
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Miss B.
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 17, 2021
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John Irving
1.0 out of 5 stars Una mezza fregatura. Occorre molta attenzione.
Reviewed in Italy on May 28, 2021
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5.0 out of 5 stars Zadie Smith at her work-bench
Reviewed in Canada on July 18, 2021
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing read
Reviewed in India on February 3, 2020
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