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Grand Union: Stories

3.28  ·  Rating details ·  4,965 ratings  ·  674 reviews
A dazzling collection of short fiction, more than half of which have never been published before, from the multi-award-winning author of White Teeth and Swing Time

Zadie Smith has established herself as one of the most iconic, critically-respected, and popular writers of her generation. In her first short story collection, she combines her power of observation and inimitabl
Hardcover, 246 pages
Published October 8th 2019 by Penguin Press
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Average rating 3.28  · 
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my becoming-a-genius project, part 8!

since you are reading this, it's likely you haven't seen projects 1 through 7 (because you surely would have unfollowed me by now), so here's the deal:
i have decided to become a genius.

to accomplish this, i'm going to work my way through the collected stories of various authors, reading + reviewing 1 story every day until i get bored / lose every single follower / am struck down by a vengeful deity.

i haven't read anything by Zadie Smith, so when i found a pri
Zadie Smith gives us a wide and disparate collection of short stories, some of which have been published previously. As is often the case with short story collections in my view, it is a mixed bag, some so slight as to be hardly worth bothering with, some rather opaque, others more engaging but too often frustrating as just as you have got into it, it all comes to a much too soon ending. Smith shifts from the past, present and future, encompassing a range of genres, with a variety of settings an ...more

Grand Union: Stories was one of the most insufferable collections of short stories I've ever read.
While I do think that Zadie Smith is a good writer I wonder whether she is one in actual practice...sadly I'm starting to think that she will never write something that I will be able to actually appreciate.
Her stories present us with a murky blend of satire and wokeness, which strive to be thought-provoking and ambivalent 'hot takes' on present issues but, more often than not, seem closer to drafts
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
A bundle of brief vignettes, that often tries to be cool or poignant, while lacking any internal consistency
At times, I do wonder if there’s something slightly dishonest in this approach, that it turns the novel into a kind of parable or illustration of a precept instead of an honest narrative.

The bundle consists of a lot of small stories, even though that sometimes hardly seems to be the right term for them. In general I feel Grand Union: Stories would have gained strength through more focus a
Reading_ Tam_ Ishly
Oct 19, 2019 rated it did not like it
*top 10 disappointing reads of 2019*
*top 10 worst reads of 2019*
Just not for me. I just cannot get along with tye writing style. Most of the short stories try to tell about broken families and racism and about relationships but it just couldn't hold my interest starting from the very first short story. Nah, not wasting my time on this. DNFed.
Paul Fulcher
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2019, net-galley
Not having any academic background in ‘creative writing’I’ve never really understood the injunction ‘show don’t tell’, but now I think maybe it’s communicating the same basic concept –that there are some ideas impossible to understand or accept as direct statements, but just marginally, fleetingly comprehensible in the form of stories. At times, I do wonder if there’s something slightly dishonest in this approach, that it turns the novel into a kind of parable or illustration of a precept instea ...more
I love Zadie Smith, I really really do. So I'll start with the good: There's loads of interesting ideas here.

Everything I read by Zadie Smith lately comes with Christian Lorentzen's question/comment ringing in my brain, "It’s worth asking whether it would have been possible for Smith to write White Teeth, with its cheekily named Islamic fundamentalist terror organization KEVIN, after 9/11. Probably not."

Lately her fiction doesn't blow my skirt up the way it once did, and I suspect that Lorentzen
I remember reading Zadie Smith's NW and just not "getting it", even though I really wanted to. I have only heard great things about Zadie Smith and her writing. I figured I should take another swing at it and Grand Union seemed to be a great option because it is a collection of short stories. I love short stories because this is a chance for the author to really show their range, this was not the case with this book.

I did not like Grand Union , there, I said it! I really wanted to like it b
Jan 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Few writers capture dialogue as beautifully as Zadie Smith -- and are such empathetic observers. I loved so many of the short stories in this collection: they're smart and moving and surprising, and the dialogue is as real as it gets. ...more
Abbie | ab_reads
3.5 stars

Thank you @penguinpress for gifting me an early copy of Grand Union by Zadie Smith! Bringing together eleven brand new, never before seen stories and a few well-loved stories previously published in magazines & newspapers, Grand Union explores notions of time and place, identity and rebirth, legacies that haunt us and futures that rush to meet us.
I was surprised by the range of genres Smith presents here, as her narrative fiction usually explores themes such as family, immigration and
Alanna Why
Nov 03, 2019 rated it liked it
Zadie Smith does this thing where half her work is really character-driven and so fucking funny and the plot ties together in a clever way that make you go “OH!” and then she does this other thing where she tries to out-smart everyone and it's like I see what you are doing here, Zadie, but this isn't very easy or enjoyable to read, damn it, can't you do that other thing you do that I like more? On this precipice lies the main reason she is one of my favourite writers, so what can you do.

There w
I read the first and last (title) stories, and started on the second. Two out of three were kind of atrocious. As in, if they didn’t have the famous name attached I’m not sure they could have gotten published. In “The Dialectic” Smith attempts to cross Elena Ferrante with Jonathan Safran Foer for a thin tale of a mother and daughter arguing on a beach about the treatment of animals. Main problem: no one speaks like the daughter speaks here, no matter her age or upbringing (“I dislike this place” ...more
Sep 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I will provide my standard disclaimer, observing that I don't care especially for short stories as a narrative platform. This collection was largely engaging despite the aggregate of poor reviews here. I'd wager an element of such is that the author appears to want us to think, not to to marvel or scrutinize the portraits before us. That might be a projection on my part.

There is also consistent political subtext at play. Perhaps this is most evident in the fantasy The Canker where women bristle
Oct 02, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2019
(#partner @penguinpress) • I was very lucky to receive an advanced copy of Zadie Smith’s new short story collection, Grand Union. This is the first collection I read for #storyseptember. I really like Zadie Smith in short form! Prior to this one, I’ve only read her novel Swing Time, and it was fine but not a favorite of mine. This one definitely made me more excited to check out some of her other work.

My favorite stories were:
• Sentimental Education, about a girl and her college boyfriend who br
1.5 stars - I didn't like it.

I’ve wanted to read Zadie Smith for a long time so this first foray makes me sad in more ways than one. I still want to get to one of her novels, but this short story collection did not do much for me. I only enjoyed two of them, “Lazy River” and “Grand Union”, while the rest were boring and lacked engagement. As always, YMMV.
Favorite Quote: You can only really know the blood you’re swimming in.

First Sentence: “I would like
Sep 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been a Zadie Smith fan since her dazzling debut "White Teeth" and this collection of inventive, fresh, entertaining and thought-provoking stories didn't let me down. While I didn't enjoy every story, I loved many of them and was especially impressed with the range of storytelling styles and voices.

Thank you to Edelweisse and the publisher for the ARC.
Michelle Curie
Believe it or not, this is the first time I have read any of Zadie Smith's word! I am clearly late to the party, and while this short story collection wasn't quite for me, I am convinced that I am going to fall in love with Smith's writing sooner or later.

Grand Union is a short-story collection consisting of 19 tales, some of which have previously been published in various journals and magazines. It's a wild and mostly fun mix, that allows a fabulous peek into what stories and ideas must be flo
Dec 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Welp, even my least favorite Zadie Smith book is well worth reading. It’s an extremely mixed bag, this one. Most of the stories in this collection didn’t really work for me, but it has some thought-provoking gems.
Dec 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
'Grand Union' (2019) is a collection of Zadie Smith's short stories - some new, others having already been published over a period 2013-18 in various journals, but collected here for the first time.

As a whole, this is a strong collection with the various stories ranging from 2* to 5* - although as a whole I have rated 'Grand Union' as a 4*.

As you'd expect from Smith the stories here are, for the most part, insightful, prescient, relevant and very well written. Not being a huge fan of the short s
Sep 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I sometimes feel that a particular piece of fiction would have worked better for me had I been in a different mood, but that feeling isn’t usually as acute as it was when I was reading Zadie Smith’s recent short story collection, Grand Union. Smith’s clever writing could be totally illuminating one moment, as when she writes about the inner psyche of somebody who has come upon sudden artistic success in ‘Blocked’, and lumbering and obvious the next, as in ‘Miss Adele Amidst the Corsets’. I feel ...more
Sian (sianslibrary)
Not a stranger to Zadie Smith’s writing, having read and thoroughly enjoyed White Teeth a few years ago, this collection of short stories left me feeling equally satisfied.

Her observation of different cultures is always on point and this collection is a testament to that. Focusing on real-life issues – mainly race, gender, class and relationships - each story is cleverly crafted by the use of honest and contemplative writing.

I think Zadie Smith excels when she uses raw, and at times vulgar, lang
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, ebook
I received a copy of this short story collection from the publisher via NetGalley.

My reading of Zadie Smith's work seems to fall into two categories: really loved ("White Teeth", "Swing Time") and can't get into at all ("The Autograph Man" and, unfortunately, this short story selection). I struggled with the shifts in perspective within individual stories and found myself mildly repelled, rather than drawn in, by most of those I attempted.

Not for me.
Ade Ola
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A genuinely strange collection of stories. At the core are several stories which seem like essays, or diary entries from the author. They feature the author herself, with obvious references to her actual life, written in a plain style that's completely at odds with Zadie Smith's reputation but still incredibly potent. Blocked, for example, is so clearly about White Teeth and the aftermath during which, as Smith has said herself, she suffered writer's block, that one almost wonders why it's bille ...more
Rachel León
I don't know how to rate or review this book... I appreciated it more than I enjoyed it. I admired it more than I liked it. But I'm so glad I read it and it confirms why Zadie Smith is so worth reading. ...more
Nov 01, 2019 rated it it was ok
Very dissapointing. The collection is very uneven, many stories seem purposeless or unfinished. They're more like drafts, not publishable writing. ...more
Dec 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Never been a fan, got bored with White Teeth, but my daughter is, so I thought I'd give her stories a go, and, although two or three are great (the University-set sexual history one is accurate about student behaviour and wise; the drag-queen-in-a-corset-shop sharp; the Notting Hill in the 50s tale beautiful), most are boring exercises of the writing about writing type. Bit of a drag. 2.5 stars ...more
Charlotte Burt
Oct 30, 2019 rated it liked it
I don't think the short form is really Zadie Smith's best medium, and some of these short stories I found almost unreadable, but there are a couple of real gems amongst them. ...more
Michelle Reichart
I love short stories and wanted to like Grand Union by Zadie Smith. The stories feel disjointed, which may be due to her post-modernity style, but I felt no flow in most of the writing. I did enjoy the short story The Lazy River, which seemed to encapsulate modern life very well. On the other end, I was repulsed by Sentimental Education, whose only purpose seemed to place as many crude sexual encounters possible into a short piece. The rest of the book is rather mixed, with some observations on ...more
Atika Dunlop
Nov 20, 2019 rated it liked it
i wanted to love this as much as her novels but i found some of the stories kinda insufferable. there are still evidence of her brilliance in here (i loved mood, big week and now more than ever), and i remain a zadie stan forever x
Khai Jian (KJ)
Feb 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
"But so much of life is structurally invisible, I noted, and has no way of fitting into the eternal accounts of our lives. Our lives are so different on the inside. We can never express their full particularity and strangeness in public, their inner chaos and complexity"

Grand Union is a collection of 19 short stories, which covers a wide spectrum of issues: feminism, racism, police brutality, masculinity, Brexit, culture of narcissism, satirical comments on the social media and the cyber realm,
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World Economic Fo...: Zadie Smith's Grand Union - Extract 1 33 Dec 16, 2019 01:49AM  

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Zadie Smith is the author of the novels White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, NW, and Swing Time, as well as two collections of essays, Changing My Mind and Feel Free. Zadie was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2002, and was listed as one of Granta's 20 Best Young British Novelists in 2003 and again in 2013. White Teeth won multiple literary awards including the James Ta ...more

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