In this interview, Zadie Smith discusses the positive elements of shame and its power to “propel you on to something,” why we must try to understand where people’s rage comes from, and the relationship between shame and rage in white America.

Smith argues that it is important to try to understand how the rage of the right-wing increased during the Obama administration, when they were the ones with a president they “couldn’t relate” to: “I feel the rage, but my rage matching their rage is pointless. I think it’s more interesting to think about what it is about white people that find the idea of any collectivity that excludes them so upsetting.”

Smith finds that insecurity, jealousy and “a kind of vanity that you should always be included in all things” are at the root of this rage.