The kids aren’t alright these days, says author Zadie Smith

Zadie Smith attends The Summer Party 2019, presented by Serpentine Galleries & Chanel (Dave Benett)
Zadie Smith attends The Summer Party 2019, presented by Serpentine Galleries & Chanel (Dave Benett)

ZADIE Smith was called the voice of a new generation when she published her novel White Teeth in 2000 at the age of 24. But now Smith is confused by the next generation, who she fears are too swift to “unfollow” artists whose views they don’t like.

Writing a piece about new film Tár for the New York Review of Books, the writer says she is “severely triggered” by people who say Chaucer was misogynistic or Virginia Woolf was racist. “I am of that generation whose only real shibboleth was: ‘Is it interesting?’” she says.

Now it’s different: “If you grew up online, the negative attributes of individual humans are immediately disqualifying,” Smith goes on. As everything is about the individual, “The very phrase ad hominem has been rendered obsolete.”

“An argument that is directed against a person, rather than the position they are maintaining? Online a person is the position they’re maintaining and vice versa. Opinions are identities and identities are opinions. Unfollow!”

Smith, now 47, admits her qualms may be part of her generation’s “midlife crisis”. “Our backs hurt, the kids don’t like Bach anymore — and the seas are rising!” she jokes. Time comes for us all.

Sunak’s long, winding road

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

PM Rishi Sunak channelled The Beatles in his unconventional New Year speech yesterday, saying background “doesn’t matter as long as the common bond is love”, and he aims to bring “optimism” and “hope” to Britain. But some didn’t get the memo. Treasury bigwig Cat Little, who oversees public spending, told Civil Service World that the “hardest decisions are yet to come”. Don’t make it bad?

Cherished Italian Deli saved

i Camisa & son (i Camisa & son)
i Camisa & son (i Camisa & son)

LONDON’S oldest Italian deli, I Camisa & Sons, has been rescued from closure. Last month it seemed to have been shut due to the cost-of-living crisis, but after mediation by Westminster council the landlord says it will “support” the business for two years while adjustments are made. That may mean some changes to the old-school “salumeria” vibe, but we hope the feel of old Italy remains.

Rusbridger’s next prospect: writing childrens’ books?

AS EDITOR of the Guardian newspaper, Alan Rusbridger helped break the phone hacking scandal. This year he had a different challenge, hurrying to finish a children’s book for his grandson for Christmas. The Magic Bookshop tells of a store threatened with closure, and is illustrated by Ukrainian Oksana Volkovska. Rusbridger, who now edits Prospect magazine, tells us he may look for a publisher, but isn’t aiming to rival David Walliams.

Freshening up for 2023

Londoner’s Diary 5th January 2023

'Manifest: Dive Deeper' By Roxie Nafousi - Book Launch: Caggie Dunlop, Olivia Petter and Phoebe Torrance (Dave Benett)
'Manifest: Dive Deeper' By Roxie Nafousi - Book Launch: Caggie Dunlop, Olivia Petter and Phoebe Torrance (Dave Benett)
Damien Hirst: Damien Hirst (Instagram)
Damien Hirst: Damien Hirst (Instagram)
Ella Richards and Lady Lola Bute: Ella Richards and Lady Lola Bute (Instagram)
Ella Richards and Lady Lola Bute: Ella Richards and Lady Lola Bute (Instagram)
Maya Jama: Maya Jama (Instagram)
Maya Jama: Maya Jama (Instagram)

REALITY star Caggie Dunlop, journalist Olivia Petter and influencer Phoebe Torrance shook off some New Year cobwebs at Roxie Nafousi’s breakfast book launch for a self-help tome Manifest: Dive Deeper at Mortimer House yesterday.

Elsewhere, artist Damien Hirst larked about with one of his famous sharks, while models Ella Richards and Lady Lola Bute shared snaps of their classy NYE party.

And presenter Maya Jama prepared for her first stint as Love Island host, which is back this month, with a facial. Jama asked followers what hair style she should try on the show, even pondering a blonde mohican.