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Zadie Smith’s epic response to man who dared to ask how she’d juggle her career with motherhood

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Women, as we’re sure you’ve realised by now, can’t do anything right. We’re either being shamed for remaining child-free (for whatever deeply personal reason), or made to feel like we’ve made a massive mistake in choosing to reproduce.

And it seems as if no woman is immune to this bullying culture of entrenched sexism. Not even a badass like Zadie Smith.


Read more: “When are you going to have kids?” An illustrated guide to the best comebacks


The White Teeth writer is, without a doubt, one of our absolute favourite storytellers; the tales she weaves are vivid, and wonderful, and thought-provoking, all at once. And it seems as if her skills aren’t reduced solely to fiction; when she’s regaling us with true tales from her personal life, we’re every bit as hooked on every word.

Which is why, when she opened up about an incident which saw her shamed by a male author for choosing to combine children with a career, we were all ears.

“His face went so pale. It was a wonderful way to frighten him back.”

“His face went so pale. It was a wonderful way to frighten him back.”

Speaking during an interview with Slate Magazine, Smith explained: “I remember when I was pregnant with my first child: I was at a book festival and a writer of my own age, who will remain nameless, sat opposite me and said, 'God you're having a kid huh?'

“It was a man,” she added, before revealing that the anonymous misogynist decided that he was well within his rights to wade headfirst into her business.

“He said, 'I guess you're going to lose a lot of time and you must be worried about falling behind.'”


Read more: Adele praises ‘bravery’ of child-free women


Smith, however, wasn’t prepared to take his snide comments lying down – and called upon her magical power over words to ensure she delivered one of the best comebacks ever.

“I was about seven months pregnant, and I just had a sudden inspiration,” she continued. “I said, 'Yeah I guess so' and then, 'You must be worried about just a complete lack of human experience that you're now going to be 40 and then 50.'

“His face went so pale. It was a wonderful way to frighten him back.”

All hail the power that is Zadie Smith!

Swing Time, the latest book by Zadie Smith, is available in bookstores now.

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