Author(s): Ali Smith
Autumn 2016- Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. And the UK is in pieces, divided by a historic once-in-a-generation summer. Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand in hand with hopelessness. The seasons roll round, as ever. Ali Smith's new novel is a meditation on a world filling up with borders, on what richness and worth are, on what harvest means. From Shakespearian jeu d'esprit, via Keatsian melancholy and the sheer bright energy of 1960s Pop Art, this first in a quartet of novels casts an eye over our own time, asking who we are, where we are, right now. Here is time, ever-changing, ever cyclical. Here comes Autumn.
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.
Booker Shortlist 2017
I love Ali Smith's writing, and I've been keeping Autumn for an end-of-book holiday treat * Val McDermid, 'The Observer' * 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 and all the dimensions of love. It's not so much 'reading between the lines' as being blinded by the light between the lines - in a good way * Deborah Levy * The book I'd like to receive for Christmas: Ali Smith's Autumn. * Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train * Fantastic writing, big ideas and generosity of spirit * Spectator * [Ali Smith] is Scotland's Nobel laureate-in-waiting - and I can't wait for her new book * Sebastian Barry, Observer * Humour, grace, solace...A light-footed meditation on mortality, mutability and how to keep your head in troubled times * Guardian, Best Fiction 2016 * Autumn is a beautiful, poignant symphony of memories, dreams and transient realities * Guardian * [Ali Smith] is simply incapable of writing a dull paragraph * New Statesman * Bold and brilliant, dealing with the body blow of Brexit to offer us something rare: hope. * Jackie Kay, poet * The novel of the year is obviously Ali Smith's Autumn, which managed the miracle of making at least a kind of sense out of post-Brexit Britain. * Olivia Laing, Observer * Ever-inventive...Autumn is the first serious Brexit novel...In a country apparently divided against itself, a writer such as Smith is more valuable than a whole parliament of politicians. * Financial Times, Books of the Year *
Ali Smith 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, Public library and other stories and Autumn. 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.