Do successful authors have doubts about their talents too?

I guess I imagine that once you’ve got a few successful novels under your belt, and your work is adored by readers and feted by critics, that you’d feel confident about your talents. However, there is all the pressure that goes with that – and can the fourth and fifth novels be just as good as the first and second?

This seems to be the case with Zadie Smith, who is extremely modest about her abilities. In a brief article in the Evening Standard, Accolades fail to ease Smith’s nerves, she is quoted as saying: “You have to struggle with each page. It’s very hard to listen to yourself for that long and feel that — even if you have had a career of some kind — someone wants to hear or read it.”

Her last book to be published was On Beauty in 2005. Her new novel NW is due out in September and is billed as a “dazzling portrait of modern London”.

I can only empathise with the very real pressure she must be under – from herself as well as external factors like publishers and reviewers – and I’m sure her new novel will be as brilliantly original and unputdownable as her others.

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