Author(s): Ali Smith
A breathtakingly inventive new novel from the Man Booker-shortlisted and Baileys Prize-winning author of How to be both
Fusing Keatsian mists and mellow fruitfulness with the vitality, the immediacy and the colour-hit of Pop Art - via a bit of very contemporary skulduggery and skull-diggery - Autumn is a witty excavation of the present by the past. The novel is a stripped-branches take on popular culture, and a meditation, in a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, what harvest means.
Autumn is the first installment in Ali Smith's novel quartet Seasonal: four standalone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as the seasons are), exploring what time is, how we experience it, and the recurring markers in the shapes our lives take and in our ways with narrative. From the imagination of the peerless Ali Smith comes a shape-shifting series, wide-ranging in timescale and light-footed through histories, and a story about ageing and time and love and stories themselves.
Ali Smith’s Autumn is a meditation on time, a book about a friendship, love and the surprising things that the past can reveal to us in the present. Daniel Gluck talks about time travel being real to the child, Emily, and in Autumn, Smith is taking us on a ride that is not linear, that dips us in and out of the life of Mr Gluck through the memories of Emily, and through her friendship with Daniel. The book opens with a wonderful dream sequence, one in which Daniel believed he has died. He is in fact in a care facility moving in and out of consciousness, letting his mind wander to elements of his past. In contrast, we meet Emily in the Post Office dealing with meaningless bureaucracy in her attempt to secure a new passport. As 32-year-old Emily sits at the bedside of her elderly friend we are given a window into her childhood memories of her friendship with her elderly next-door neighbour, a relationship that undoubtedly has been pivotal in Emily’s life, giving her an interest in slices of culture and history that she otherwise would have been unlikely to have had. Yet this isn’t where the success of this novel lies: Smith has cleverly laid out what it means to live in the UK, post-Brexit, by delving into the conventions of the past, by unveiling hypocrisy. Written in Smith’s lyrical yet spare style, this book has left me with plenty to think about: what does time and experience mean, and how does this impact on the way we approach our place in the histories we exist within? Autumn is the first in a ‘seasonal’ series and I’m curious to see where the other three seasons take us.
Publisher's description. Autumn 2016: the UK is in pieces, divided by a historic once-in-a-generation summer. Love is won, love is lost. The seasons roll round as ever. From the imagination of the peerless Ali Smith comes a shape-shifting, light-footed, time-travelling novel. This is a story about right now, this minute; about ageing and time and love and stories themselves. Here comes Autumn. Penguin Transcendental writing about art, death, political lies, trees and all the dimensions of love Deborah Levy The first serious Brexit novel Financial Times Fantastic writing, big ideas and generosity of spirit Cressida Connolly She is, of course, Scotland's Nobel laureate-in-waiting Observer Autumn is a beautiful, poignant symphony of memories, dreams and transient realities The Guardian
Ali Smith was born in Inverness in 1962. She is the author of Free Love and Other Stories, Like, Other Stories and Other Stories, Hotel World, The Whole Story and Other Stories, The Accidental, Girl Meets Boy, The First Person and Other Stories, There but for the, Artful, How to be both, and Public library and other stories. Hotel World was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Orange Prize and The Accidental was shortlisted for the Man Booker and the Orange Prize. How to be both won the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, the Goldsmiths Prize and the Costa Novel Award and was shortlisted for the Man Booker and the Folio Prize. Ali Smith lives in Cambridge.