“I am the sole author”: Inauthenticity and Intertextuality in Zadie Smith’s NW

  • Beatriz Pérez Zapata Tecnocampus (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)/Valencian International University


This article examines the role of intertextuality in Zadie Smith’s NW (2012) and the novel’s questioning of authorship, authenticity and identity. Relying on intertextual and postcolonial theories, the article lays bare how Smith’s novel questions the fixity and stability of selves and how she situates herself as an inherently intertextual author disrupted by others and potentially disruptive of (post)colonial ways of being and one that plays with notions of (in)authenticity and originality. For this purpose, the article pays attention to the novel’sintertextual links with the historical case of the Tichborne claimant and Jorge Luis Borges’s fictionalisation of it in the short story “Tom Castro, the Implausible Impostor,” included in the collection A Universal History of Infamy (1933). Moreover, the article focuses on the theorisation of infamy, understood as the disruption of hegemonic narratives brought about by marginal characters and discourses.

Author Biography

Beatriz Pérez Zapata, Tecnocampus (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)/Valencian International University
Beatriz Pérez Zapata is an assistant lecturer at Tecnocampus (Universitat Pompeu Fabra) and the Valencian International University, where she teaches English for Specific Purposes. She obtained her PhD from the University of Zaragoza, with a thesis on postcolonial trauma in the work of Zadie Smith. Her research interests are trauma, Black British writing, diasporic literature and the representation of refugees in literature and the media.


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