Namara Smith

Namara Smith is an editor at Bookforum.

Me? Soft?

Namara Smith, 4 February 2021

The​ narrator of Transcendent Kingdom, Yaa Gyasi’s second novel, is blunt about the logic behind her life choices: ‘I wanted to do the hardest thing. I wanted to flay any mental weakness off my body like fascia from muscle.’ This impulse led her first to Harvard, where she studied molecular biology, and then to graduate school at Stanford. When the novel begins, she is 28...

The Last Quesadilla: Leanne Shapton

Namara Smith, 6 February 2020

Mymother used to tell a story she heard in the Peace Corps in the 1970s. An American couple somewhere in the South Pacific decided to swim across a narrow but deep channel where tiger sharks had been spotted. The man, about twenty yards ahead, was almost at the other side when he heard a cry and looked back to see his wife disappearing under the water. All they ever found of her were her...

Dots and Dashes: Nick Drnaso

Namara Smith, 4 April 2019

The most arresting scene​ in Beverly, the first book by the American cartoonist Nick Drnaso, arrives midway through a story – one of six – called ‘The Lil’ King’. A boy sits outside a locked motel room as rhythmic groans emanate from the other side of the door: his parents have stolen a moment alone, thinking the kids are at the pool. It is the last family road...

In​ The Portrait of a Lady, Mrs Touchett describes finding Isabel Archer ‘sitting in a dreary room on a rainy day, reading a heavy book and boring herself to death’. She adds, defending herself, ‘You may say I shouldn’t have enlightened her – I should have let her alone. There’s a good deal in that, but I acted conscientiously; I thought she was...

It’s a mistake to take Lockwood’s cuteness at face value. The rites and symbols she holds up for ridicule – the solemn processions, the incense, the swords, feathers, tufts and robes – are not only ornamental; they are what transform her father from a man who eats pork rinds in his underwear and washes his legs with Palmolive washing-up liquid into an object of collective veneration.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences