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If you haven't yet, it's time to catch up with one of literature's most exciting and gifted young authors. Only 37, London native Zadie Smith is already four novels, dozens of non-fiction essays and reported pieces, and 11 short stories deep.

Her latest release, the novel NW, traces the lives of two childhood friends whose differing adult lives intersect in ways that touch upon misunderstandings, empathies, and unexpected bonds that come from multicultural societies. Sometimes a simple human story told in ambitious, insightful prose is needed in order to distract one from the nightmares of everyday life. Like those jerk-filled lines of angry holiday shoppers found inside every retail store in sight.