There’s only one bookish thing more exciting than spotting one of your favourite authors on a list of prospective publications and that’s buying it after nine months of expectation. Complete, that is, with wrapper designed by one of your favourite contemporary cover artists. And buying it new! New, when you have a whole bookshop full of books!

I’ve long been an advocate of Zadie Smith, despite her three very popular, but fairly imperfect novels so far. It doesn’t bother me she’s not keen on interviews, I enjoy her style, her humour and the people you get to meet reading her books. NW, her latest, feels quite different though, somehow darker and more serious despite the bright cover designed by the much celebrated Jonathan Gray, a.k.a. Gray 318.

Probably best known for his striking Safran Foer wrappers, his other work is easy to spot among the shelves of homogenous stock photos and gold embossed titling. He’s designed wrappers for Jonathan Letham, Ali Smith, Marina Lewycka and William Boyd among others. Often using hand-crafted lettering or cut-and-paste-like designs that invite reader involvement, his style is bright and interpretive, which seems to suit Smith’s new novel. I think his best work to date would have to be the Nineteen Eighty-Four cover he did for Penguin in 2009. Free from iconic title or famous author for that matter, the classic is instead emblazoned with the slogan that looms larger than the novel itself, enveloped into popular vernacular as Big Brother has been.

Interview with Gray 318, from BBC.

Cover art by Gray 318 and again.

Zadie, Zadie, more, more, more Zadie.

PS. Incidentally Nineteen Eighty-Four is one the the books that people lie most about reading!! Why is this? Maybe because most people were supposed to have read it at school, instead of gazing wistfully at the tree out the window or scribbling daydreams in their binder??

PPS. People need to buy things new sometimes in order for there to be secondhand things :)

PPPS. OK, there are lot’s of exciting bookish things really…