From acclaimed and bestselling novelist Zadie Smith, a kaleidoscopic work of historical fiction set against the legal trial that divided Victorian England, about who gets to tell their story--and who gets to be believed
It is 1873. Mrs. Eliza Touchet is the Scottish housekeeper--and cousin by marriage--of a once-famous novelist, now in decline, William Ainsworth, with whom she has lived for thirty years.
Mrs. Touchet is a woman of many interests: literature, justice, abolitionism, class, her cousin, his wives, this life and the next. But she is also sceptical. She suspects her cousin of having no talent; his successful friend, Mr. Charles Dickens, of being a bully and a moralist; and England of being a land of facades, in which nothing is quite what it seems.
Andrew Bogle, meanwhile, grew up enslaved on the Hope Plantation, Jamaica. He knows every lump of sugar comes at a human cost. That the rich deceive the poor. And that people are more easily manipulated than they realize. When Bogle finds himself in London, star witness in a celebrated case of imposture, he knows his future depends on telling the right story.
The "Tichborne Trial"--wherein a lower-class butcher from Australia claimed he was in fact the rightful heir of a sizable estate and title --captivates Mrs. Touchet and all of England. Is Sir Roger Tichborne really who he says he is? Or is he a fraud? Mrs. Touchet is a woman of the world. Mr. Bogle is no fool. But in a world of hypocrisy and self-deception, deciding what is real proves a complicated task. . . .
Based on real historical events, The Fraud is a dazzling novel about truth and fiction, Jamaica and Britain, fraudulence and authenticity and the mystery of "other people."
Zadie Smith is the author of the novels White Teeth, The Autograph Man, On Beauty, NW and Swing Time; as well as a novella, The Embassy of Cambodia; three collections of essays, Changing My Mind, Feel Free and Intimations; a collection of short stories, Grand Union; and the play, The Wife of Willesden, adapted from Chaucer. She is also the editor of The Book of Other People. Zadie Smith was born in north-west London, where she still lives.
Smith will be in conversation with Dolen Perkins-Valdez. Perkins-Valdez is the New York Times bestselling author of Wench (2010), Balm (2015), and most recently Take My Hand (2022) which was named a Most Anticipated Book of 2022 by Newsweek, San Francisco Chronicle, Essence, NBC News, and elsewhere. Amazon named Take My Hand one of the Top 20 Books of 2022. The novel was awarded a 2023 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work, Silver Gavel Award from the American Bar Association, and Fiction Award from Black Caucus of the American Library Association. It has been longlisted for the Mark Twain American Voice in Literature Award. A three-time nominee for a United States Artists Fellowship, Dolen is widely considered a pre-eminent chronicler of American historical life. She is Associate Professor in the MFA Program at American University in Washington, DC.
The author will be signing books following the event.