Synopses & Reviews
From the Man Booker shortlisted and Baileys Prize winning author of How to be both: a breathtakingly inventive new novel about aging, time, love, and stories themselves that launches an extraordinary quartet of books called Seasonal.
Readers love Ali Smith s novels for their peerless innovation and their joyful celebration of language and life. Her newest, Autumn, has all of these qualities in spades, and good news for fans is the first installment in a quartet. Seasonal, comprised of four stand-alone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as are the seasons), explores what time is, how we experience it, and the recurring markers in the shapes our lives take and in our ways with narrative. Fusing Keatsian mists and mellow fruitfulness with the vitality, the immediacy, and the color hit of Pop Art, 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.
"[Smith’s] risk-taking, convention-defying fiction resembles a dizzying high-wire act performed above stiffer competition. Autumn is another breathless feat.... It engages acutely and beautifully with topical concerns and perennial issues.... Smith muses on art, literature and memory, plus the transience of life and the horror of Brexit. Some of her meditations are imbued with autumnal tones and textures (melancholy, regret, nostalgia); others are flecked with wit. As ever, Smith regales us with endless wordplay.... Smith’s most substantial components speak volumes with poetic intensity and lucidity about an enduring companionship, a fractured Great Britain, the tragedy of aging and the cyclical nature of time.... Autumn is the first installment of Smith’s 'Seasonal' quartet. If this brilliantly inventive and ruminative book is representative of what is to come, then we should welcome Smith’s winter chill whatever the season." Malcolm Forbes, Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Delights in puns and lyric reveries. For a book about decline and disintegration, Autumn remains irrepressibly hopeful about life, something 'you worked to catch, the intense happiness of an object slightly set apart from you.'" Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal
"Ali Smith has a beautiful mind. I found this book to be unbearably moving in its playful, strange, soulful assessment of what it means to be alive at a somber time. She is speaking about sand, but she might be talking about Western civilization when she praises the 'array of colors of even the pulverized world.'... I have no early quibble with the novelist Sebastian Barry’s comment that she may be ‘Scotland’s Nobel laureate-in-waiting.'... Autumn has a loose structure, almost like that of a prose poem. This form is perfect for Smith, because her mind will go where it wants to go. And where her mind goes, you want to follow.... Shrewd and dreamy, serious-but-not-solemn.... Spring can really hang you up the most, but for now I am struck by, and stuck on, Autumn." Dwight Garner, The New York Times
About the Author
Ali Smith is the author of many works of fiction, including the novel Hotel World,which was short-listed for both the Orange Prize and the Man Booker Prize and won the Encore Award and the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award, and The Accidental, which won the Whitbread Award and was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize for Fiction. Her most recent novel, How to be both, was a Man Booker Prize finalist and winner of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Goldsmiths Prize, the Costa Novel Award, and the Saltire Society Scottish Fiction Book of the Year Award. Born in Inverness, Scotland, Smith lives in Cambridge, England.