Born Sadie Smith in 1975 to a Jamaican mother and an English father, at age fourteen, she changed her name to Zadie. An early interest in jazz singing gave way to the pursuit of a career in writing. While studying English literature at King’s College, her short stories attracted the attention of a publisher, and her professional career was assured even before she graduated. Her first novel, White Teeth (2000), became an immediate bestseller. Since then, she has been a prolific writer of novels, short fiction, and essays. Her novels include The Autograph Man (2002), On Beauty (2005), NW (2012), Swing Time (2016), and The Fraud (2019); and in 2019, she also published a short fiction collection, Grand Union: Stories.
In 2002, Smith was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Among her many accolades, her debut novel White Teeth received the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, the Whitbread First Novel Award, and the Guardian First Book Award; her second book, On Beauty, won the Orange Prize for Fiction. In 2017, she was awarded the Langston Hughes Medal by the City College of New York. Since 2010, Zadie Smith has been a tenured professor in the creative writing department at New York University.