I don’t fuck around with titles. I come up with them immediately and then don’t ever think about changing them. And I’ve stockpiled them. This one came from Elaine Scarry’s book, On Beauty and Being Just. I read her book and then my husband wrote a poem (which I include in my novel), which takes its title from Scarry’s book, and then I took the title for my novel. So I was third in line for the On Beauty title! But even last year there was a book called On Beauty published by Umberto Eco, so it’s in no way an original title.
-Zadie Smith, interviewed by The Atlantic for On Beauty