Zadie Smith is the author of numerous beloved novels like White Teeth and NW, and it now seems she's not the only person in her family with literary talent. Zadie Smith's brother Ben Bailey Smith has written a book that managed to spark a bidding war among four publishers. But the younger brother assured the press there's no competition between him and his sister — which makes sense given they're writing for very different age groups. Zadie Smith writes novels meant for adults, while Ben Bailey Smith's new book is a picture book for children.
Ben Bailey Smith is best known for his rap and comedy career (in which he uses the stage name Doc Brown) but it seems that he picked up some of the same talent for writing books as his sister as well. His new title, I Am Bear , is something that he's apparently been working on for a long time. He said, "This is on the back of 10 years of research reading to my kids, who are 7 and 10, and just finding so many books are too moralistic and no good. There are some great stories out there but there is also a lot of dross.”
Smith's earliest efforts to write a picture book were rejected by publishers, but after teaming up with illustrator Sav Akyuz, the two managed to produce a book that had publishers lining up.
And what does Zadie Smith think of her younger brother's new book? According to Ben Bailey Smith she loves it. He told The Standard, “I sent the American version out to my sister and my niece in New York and she loves it and is very proud, but there is no sense of competition."
He added, “It’s a picture book. If I was writing a novel I would be terrified of sending it to her and it would be awkward to say the least, I mean I’m just an upstart younger brother. ... I’m not a novelist and I’m never going to be a novelist.”
Still, despite writing in very different genres, it seems that both siblings will soon be able to boast about their successful books. So could this be the start of a family literary dynasty? Well who knows, but at the very least, it seems like you should consider I Am Bear as a possible gift for any young nieces or nephews with birthdays coming up — best get them hooked on the Smith family early, right?