The Fraud

Zadie Smith

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Penguin Books
6 June 2024
ISBN: 9780241983096
Paperback
464 pages

From the publisher

The chronicler of contemporary London, acclaimed and bestselling author Zadie Smith, returns with her first historical novel

Book of the Year 2023 according to New York Times, New Yorker, Guardian, Economist, Observer, The Spectator, Financial Times, Vogue, The Times, The Oldie, i Paper, The Standard, Washington Post, Independent, Daily Express

SHORTLISTED FOR WATERSTONES BOOK OF THE YEAR 2023
SHORTLISTED FOR THE WRITERS’ PRIZE FOR FICTION 2024
ONE OF SARAH JESSICA PARKER’S BEST BOOKS OF 2023
LONGLISTED FOR THE WALTER SCOTT PRIZE FOR HISTORICAL FICTION 2024


‘A writer at the peak of her powers’ The Telegraph

Truth and fiction. Jamaica and Britain. Who gets to tell their story?

In her first historical novel, Zadie Smith transports the reader to a Victorian England transfixed by the real-life trial of the Tichborne Claimant, in which a cockney butcher, recently returned from Australia, lays claim to the Tichborne baronetcy, with his former slave Andrew Bogle as star witness. Watching the proceedings, and with her own story to tell, is Eliza Touchet – cousin, housekeeper and perhaps more – to failing novelist William Harrison Ainsworth.

From literary London to the Jamaica’s sugar-cane plantations, Zadie Smith weaves an enthralling story linking the rich and the poor, the free and the enslaved, and the comic and the tragic.

‘It’s difficult to give any idea of how extraordinary this book is. One of the great historical novels, certainly. But has any historical novel ever combined such brilliantly researched and detailed history with such intensely imagined fiction?' Michael Frayn

‘As always it is a pleasure to be in Zadie Smith’s mind . . . Dickens may be dead, but Smith, thankfully, is alive’ New York Times

‘Zadie Smith’s Victorian-set masterpiece holds a mirror up to Britain . . . The Fraud is the genuine article’ Independent

‘Smith’s dazzling historical novel combines deft writing and strenuous construction in a tale of literary London and the horrors of slavery’ Guardian