Fran Bigman is an American living in London, where she is working a PhD in English at the University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on representations of abortion in British culture from 1918 to 1967, and her other interests include contemporary British fiction, dystopian fiction and film, and novels of immigration and migration. Fran’s book reviews have appeared in the “Times Literary Supplement,” “Wasafiri,” Forbes.com, “Words Without Borders,” where she also served as reviews editor, and the “Jewish Quarterly.” She is reviews editor of the website Fiction Uncovered.
By calling her newest novel NW, Zadie Smith follows in the tradition of other writers, including Mary Gaskell, George Eliot, and Winifred Holtby, who have named the work after the setting. Like its predecessors, NW is an ensemble novel that explores human nature through a microcosm of the world, a technique that has historically appealed to women writers. Jane Austen famously said her work, containable on a “little bit (two inches wide) of Ivory,” was about “four or five families in a country village.”