Published on Submitted by Man Booker Prize on Wed, 2017-09-13 10:17
Paul Auster, Emily Fridlund, Mohsin Hamid, Fiona Mozley, George Saunders and Ali Smith are today, Wednesday 13 September, announced as the six shortlisted authors for the 2017 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.
Their names were announced by 2017 Chair of judges, Lola, Baroness Young, at a press conference at the offices of Man Group, the prize sponsor.
The judges remarked that the novels, each in its own way, challenge and subtly shift our preconceptions — about the nature of love, about the experience of time, about questions of identity and even death.
The shortlist, which features three women and three men, covers a wide range of subjects, from the struggle of a family trying to retain its self-sufficiency in rural England to a love story between two refugees seeking to flee an unnamed city in the throes of civil war.
In the fourth year that the prize has been open to writers of any nationality, the shortlist is made up of two British, one British-Pakistani and three American writers.
Two novels from independent publishers, Faber & Faber and Bloomsbury, are shortlisted, alongside two from Penguin Random House imprint Hamish Hamilton and two from Hachette imprints, Weidenfeld & Nicolson and JM Originals.
2017 Man Booker Shortlist
The 2017 shortlist of six novels is:
Title Author (nationality) (imprint)
4321 by Paul Auster (US) (Faber & Faber)
History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund (US) (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (UK-Pakistan) (Hamish Hamilton)
Elmet by Fiona Mozley (UK) (JM Originals)
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders (US) (Bloomsbury Publishing)
Autumn by Ali Smith (UK) (Hamish Hamilton)
Lola, Baroness Young comments:
‘With six unique and intrepid books that collectively push against the borders of convention, this year’s shortlist both acknowledges established authors and introduces new voices to the literary stage. Playful, sincere, unsettling, fierce: here is a group of novels grown from tradition but also radical and contemporary. The emotional, cultural, political and intellectual range of these books is remarkable, and the ways in which they challenge our thinking is a testament to the power of literature.’
Ali Smith makes the Man Booker shortlist for the fourth time (she was previously shortlisted for Hotel World in 2001, The Accidental in 2005 and How to Be Both in 2014). This year also sees a repeat shortlisting for Mohsin Hamid, who made the list in 2007 with The Reluctant Fundamentalist.
Hachette imprint JM Originals makes the shortlist for the first time with Fiona Mozley’s Elmet, which was the first ever acquisition of assistant editor Becky Walsh. Mozley is also the youngest author on the shortlist, aged 29, and one of two debut writers to make the list – the other being 38 year-old American Emily Fridlund with History of Wolves.
The other two American authors on the shortlist are Paul Auster and George Saunders. 4321 by Auster, who turned 70 this year, is the longest novel on the shortlist at 866 pages and, according to the author, took three and a half years, working 6 and a half days a week, to write. Lincoln in the Bardo, the first full-length novel by Saunders — an acclaimed short story writer and Folio Prize winner — completes the list.
Luke Ellis, CEO of Man Group, comments:
‘Congratulations to each of the authors who have been shortlisted for this year’s Man Booker Prize. The list represents a celebration of exceptional literary talent, ranging from established novelists to debut writers, that we are honoured to support. As well as playing an important role in recognising literary endeavour, the prize’s charitable activities underscore Man Group's charitable focus on literacy and education and our commitment to creativity and excellence.’
The judging panel, chaired by Lola, Baroness Young, consists of: the literary critic, Lila Azam Zanganeh; the Man Booker Prize shortlisted novelist, Sarah Hall; the artist, Tom Phillips CBE RA; and the travel writer and novelist, Colin Thubron CBE.
The 2017 winner announcement
The 2017 winner will be announced on Tuesday 17 October in London’s Guildhall, at a dinner that brings together the shortlisted authors and well-known figures from the literary world. The ceremony will be broadcast by the BBC.
In the meantime, there will be a number of public events featuring the shortlisted authors. These include an event at the Nottingham Lakeside Arts Theatre in partnership with Nottingham UNESCO City of Literature on Tuesday 10 October and two events at The Times & The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival on Saturday 14 October. The traditional Man Booker Prize readings will take place at the Southbank Centre on the eve of the prize, 16 October, hosted by broadcaster and author Gemma Cairney.
Further events with the winner will be announced in due course.
The shortlisted authors each receive £2,500 and a specially bound edition of their book. The winner will receive a further £50,000 and can expect international recognition.
The Booker Prize Foundation provides funding for the Royal National Institute of Blind People to ensure that braille, giant print & audio versions of the shortlisted books are available for the visually impaired in time for the winner announcement. The majority of this year's shortlist is already available for readers in these formats. The Booker Prize Foundation has a longstanding partnership with RNIB to provide Man Booker Prize books to the tens of thousands of blind and partially sighted members of the RNIB Library.
The leading prize for quality fiction in English
From longlist stage onwards, the ‘Man Booker Dozen’ receives widespread interest from the media, booksellers and the public, in the form of critical engagement, media coverage and significantly increased book sales.
First awarded in 1969, the Man Booker Prize is recognised as the leading prize for high quality literary fiction written in English. Its list of winners includes many of the giants of the last four decades, from Salman Rushdie to Hilary Mantel, Iris Murdoch to Ian McEwan. The prize has also recognised many authors early in their careers, including Eleanor Catton, Aravind Adiga and Ben Okri.
The rules of the prize were changed at the end of 2013 to embrace the English language ‘in all its vigour, its vitality, its versatility and its glory’, opening it up to writers beyond the UK and Commonwealth when their novels are published in UK.
Man Group, an active investment management firm, has sponsored the prize since 2002.
For all press enquiries please contact:
Four Colman Getty on +44(0)20 3697 4200
Hannah Davies Hannah.Davies@FourCommunications.com
Alice Furse Alice.Furse@FourCommunications.com
Notes to Editors
For each shortlisted book there are judges’ comments, synopses and author biographies at the end of the Notes to Editors
Please find images of the authors and jackets here. This Dropbox will be updated on Wednesday
afternoon with images of the judges with the shortlisted books following a press conference.
The rules state that a longlist of 12 or 13 books – ‘The Man Booker Dozen’ – is to be selected, followed by a shortlist of six.
The 2017 longlist, or ‘Man Booker Dozen’, consisted of 13 books:
Paul Auster (US) – 4 3 2 1 (Faber & Faber)
Sebastian Barry (Ireland) – Days Without End (Faber & Faber)
Emily Fridlund (US) – History of Wolves (Weidenfeld & Nicolson)
Mohsin Hamid (UK- Pakistan) – Exit West (Hamish Hamilton)
Mike McCormack (Ireland) – Solar Bones (Canongate)
Jon McGregor (UK) – Reservoir 13 (4th Estate)
Fiona Mozley (UK) – Elmet (JM Originals)
Arundhati Roy (India) – The Ministry Of Utmost Happiness (Hamish Hamilton)
George Saunders (US) – Lincoln in the Bardo (Bloomsbury Publishing, Bloomsbury)
Kamila Shamsie (UK-Pakistan) – Home Fire (Bloomsbury Circus, Bloomsbury)
Ali Smith (UK) – Autumn (Hamish Hamilton)
Zadie Smith (UK) – Swing Time (Hamish Hamilton)
Colson Whitehead (US) – The Underground Railroad (Fleet)
UK publishers may submit novels written in the English language and published in the UK between 1 October 2016 and 30 September 2017. The number of books a publisher can submit will depend on that publisher’s inclusion in longlists over the previous five years, as follows:
Publishers with no longlistings – 1 submission
Publishers with 1 or 2 longlisting(s) – 2 submissions
Publishers with 3 or 4 longlistings – 3 submissions
Publishers with 5 or more longlistings – 4 submissions
This means that the number of submissions for each publisher may change from year to year. A new work by any author who has previously been shortlisted for the Booker (pre-2002) or Man Booker Prize is automatically eligible
In addition, the judges ‘call in’ a number of novels each year: in addition to their main submissions, a publisher may provide a list of up to five titles for consideration, accompanied by a justification from the editor. The judges are required to call in no fewer than eight and no more than 12 of these titles. The judges are also permitted to call in other books published within the requisite dates, even if the book has not been entered through any other route
Four Colman Getty handles PR and event management for the prize and provides all events and administrative back-up
The Literary Director of the Booker Prize Foundation is Gaby Wood. The Administrator of the Man Booker International Prize is Fiammetta Rocco – Culture Editor of The Economist and 1843
Paul Beatty won the Man Booker Prize for Fiction 2016 with The Sellout (Oneworld). To date, over 360,000 copies of the Oneworld edition of the book have been sold.
The Man Booker Prize for Fiction was first awarded in 1969 and has been sponsored by Man Group since 2002. The title ‘Booker Prize’ therefore only applies to prize years 1969 – 2001, before Man Group’s sponsorship began, and since 2002 it has been called The Man Booker Prize for Fiction. It would be greatly appreciated if you could ensure that your editorial is factually correct by referring to the prize’s full title at least once, if not in the headline, then in your next subsequent mention. For a full history of the prize including previous winners, shortlisted authors and judges visit the website: www.themanbookerprize.com
The Man Booker International Prize is awarded annually for the best single work of fiction translated into English and published in the UK. The £50,000 prize is divided equally between the author and the translator. Each shortlisted author and translator receives £1,000. The 2017 winner was A Horse Walks into a Bar by David Grossman, translated by Jessica Cohen. 2017 was the second year of the newly evolved prize, which was originally established in 2005 as a biennial prize awarded to an author for an achievement in fiction
The Booker Prize Foundation is a registered charity (no 1090049) established in 2002, since when it has been responsible for the award of the Man Booker Prize for Fiction, and for the Man Booker International Prize since its inauguration in 2005. The trustees of the Booker Prize Foundation are: Baroness Kennedy QC (Chair) – former Chair of the British Council and Principal of Mansfield College, Oxford; Lord Baker of Dorking CH; Bidisha – writer, critic and broadcaster; Victoria Glendinning CBE – biographer; James Naughtie – broadcaster; Christopher Pearce – former Finance Director of Rentokil plc; Professor Louise Richardson – Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford; Ben Okri – writer and former Man Booker Prize winner. Jonathan Taylor CBE is President of the Foundation and Baroness Nicholson of Winterbourne, Sir Ronald Harwood and Baroness Neuberger are Vice Presidents
The Booker Prize Foundation Advisory Committee, which advises on any changes to the rules and on the selection of the judges, represents all aspects of the book world. Its members are: Mark Chilton – Company Secretary and General Counsel of Booker Group plc; Jonty Claypole – Head of Arts, BBC; James Daunt – Managing Director of Waterstones; Jonathan Douglas – Director of the National Literacy Trust; Maggie Fergusson – writer and Secretary of the Royal Society of Literature; Adam Freudenheim – publisher, Pushkin Press; Derek Johns – author & literary agent; Peter Kemp – Chief Fiction Reviewer, The Sunday Times; Rosanna Konarzewski – Global Head of Communications and Marketing, Man Group; Nigel Newton – publisher, Bloomsbury; Fiammetta Rocco – Culture Editor, The Economist and 1843 (Man Booker International Prize Administrator); Michal Shavit – Publishing Director, Jonathan Cape; Eve Smith – Secretary, the Booker Prize Foundation; Boyd Tonkin – writer and critic. It is chaired by Gaby Wood, Literary Director, Booker Prize Foundation
Man Group has sponsored the Man Booker Prize since 2002 and the Man Booker International Prize since its inception in 2005. An active investment management firm founded in 1783, Man Group was recognised as a partner that mirrored the quality, integrity and longevity of the Booker Prize. The prize underscores Man Group's charitable focus on literacy and education, as well as the firm’s commitment to excellence and creativity. Together with the wider charitable activities of the Booker Prize Foundation, the prizes play a very important role in promoting literary excellence on a global scale that the firm is honoured to support
Man Group is an active investment management firm focused on delivering performance and client portfolio solutions through its five investment management businesses: Man AHL; Man Numeric; Man GLG; Man FRM and Man Global Private Markets. Man Group’s investment management businesses provide long-only, alternative and private markets products on a single and multi-manager basis, leveraging the firm’s robust infrastructure to provide a diverse range of strategies across investment approaches, styles and asset classes. The original business was founded in 1783. Today, Man Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange under the ticker EMG.L and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index. As at 30 June 2017, Man Group’s funds under management were $95.9 billion. Man Group also supports many awards, charities and initiatives around the world, including sponsorship of the Man Booker literary prizes. Further information can be found at www.man.com
Booker is the UK's leading food wholesaler with over 170 branches nationwide. It serves over 350,000 independent businesses
The Booker Prize Foundation has a longstanding partnership with RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People). The Foundation funds the production of the shortlisted titles in braille, giant print and audio, which the sight loss charity produces by the date the winner is announced. The accessible versions are then made available to the tens of thousands of blind and partially sighted members of the RNIB Library. People with sight loss have a limited choice of books in accessible formats and often have to wait much longer than their sighted peers for titles to be made available to them - and there are many more books that they will never have the chance to read. The Foundation is working with RNIB to change this story. For further information contact the RNIB Press Office on 020 7391 2223 or email@example.com
The Booker Prize Archive was given on loan in 2003 to Oxford Brookes University where it now resides.
2017 shortlisted books, authors and judges’ comments
4 3 2 1
Published by Faber & Faber
On March 3, 1947, in the maternity ward of Beth Israel Hospital in Newark, New Jersey, Archibald Isaac Ferguson, the one and only child of Rose and Stanley Ferguson, is born. From that single beginning, Ferguson's life will take four simultaneous and independent fictional paths.
Four Fergusons made of the same genetic material, four boys who are the same boy, will go on to lead four parallel and entirely different lives. Family fortunes diverge. Loves and friendships and intellectual passions contrast. Chapter by chapter, the rotating narratives evolve into an elaborate dance of inner worlds enfolded within the outer forces of history as, one by one, the intimate plots of the four Fergusons’ stories rush on across the tumultuous and fractured terrain of mid-20th century America. A boy grows up – again and again and again.
Paul Auster is the best-selling author of Winter Journal, Sunset Park, Man in the Dark, The Brooklyn Follies, The Book of Illusions, and The New York Trilogy, among many other works. In 2006 he was awarded the Prince of Asturias Prize for Literature and inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Among his other honours are the Independent Spirit Award for the screenplay of Smoke and the Prix Medicis Etranger for Leviathan. He has also been shortlisted for both the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, and his work has been translated into more than 30 languages. He was born in 1947 and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Lola Young on 4321
‘At the centre of 4321 is the story of Ferguson as he navigates his way through growing up in
mid-20th century USA. Four times. There are four different Fergusons – each born to the same two parents, though their relationship is different in each iteration, as is their connectedness to other members of the family, and to friends. Fatal schisms in North American society are revealed through the violence, protests and demonstrations sparked by the war in Vietnam and the growth of the civil rights movement, as they reverberate around and through the different versions of Ferguson’s life. In one narrative thread, he’s deeply involved in the political upheavals; in another, what is going on around him is more or less a backdrop, remote from his everyday concerns. A character closely associated with Ferguson may die in one version, and fall in or out of love with him in another. Each version of the characters and their interaction with other characters, subtly changes the way in which Ferguson moves through the four narratives, impacting on his eventual fate. Auster’s achievement is to pull off an ambitious, complex, epic narrative about the coming of age of a young man during one of the most turbulent times in recent North American history, that is essentially both human and humane.’
For further information, please contact Rachel Alexander at Faber & Faber
Tel: 020 7927 3883, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
History of Wolves
Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, Orion Books
Linda, age 14, lives on a dying commune on the edge of a lake in the Midwest of America. She and her parents are the last remaining inhabitants, the others having long since left amid bitter acrimony. She has grown up isolated both by geography and her understanding of the world, and is an outsider at school, regarded as a freak.’
One day she notices the arrival of a young family in a cabin on the opposite side of the lake. She starts to befriend them, first their four-year-old son Paul, and then his young mother Patra, who is also lonely and isolated. For the first time she feels a sense of belonging that has been missing from her life.
Leo, the father, is a university professor and an enigmatic figure, perpetually absent. When he returns home, Linda is shunned by the family unit. Desperate to be accepted again, she struggles to resume her place in their home and fails to see warning signals that have devastating consequences.
Emily Fridlund was born in 1979 and grew up in Minnesota. She holds an MFA from Washington University in St. Louis and a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California. Her collection of stories, Catapult, was chosen by Ben Marcus for the Mary McCarthy Prize and will be published by Sarabande Books. She lives in the Finger Lakes region of New York. History of Wolves is her first novel.
Sarah Hall on History of Wolves
‘Set in the austere wilds of Minnesota, Emily Fridlund's History of Wolves is the eerily and beautifully told story of an ex-commune girl, Linda, who struggles to connect with her parents and peers, but is charged with the care of a young boy in a nearby lakeside cabin. The strange, tentative relationships that form between Linda, Paul, and his mother, Patra, are thrown into confusion when the boy's father arrives, and with him a sense of subtly malign authority. The novel plays with mystery and thriller genres, and classic coming-of-age tales, and at its heart is a deeply sophisticated, intelligent and realist version of these. The author coolly explores the psychology of neglectful parenting, children's lack of insight into their own lives, their astounding ability to survive in harsh worlds, their feral systems and power games, and the personal voids into which religion and belief systems might encroach. Fridlund skillfully creates branching stories that lead us through the unsettling formation of Linda's psychology and the effects of childhood tragedy, loneliness and isolation on later life, while also traversing the dispossessed subcultures, lambent beauty and dangers of the region. It is a novel of silver prose and disquieting power that asks very difficult questions about human responsibility, knowledge and agency.’
For further information, please contact Rebecca Gray at Weidenfeld & Nicholson
Tel: 020 3122 6884, email: email@example.com
Published by Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House
In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, Saeed and Nadia lock eyes across their classroom. After a while, they talk, he makes her smile and they start to fall in love. They try not to notice the sound of bombs getting closer every night, the radio announcing new laws, the curfews and the public executions.
Eventually the problem is too big to ignore: it’s not safe for Nadia to live alone and she must move in with Saeed, even though they are not married, and that too is a problem. Meanwhile, rumours are spreading of strange black doors in secret places across the city, doors that lead to London or San Francisco, Greece or Dubai. One day soon the time will come for Nadia and Saeed to seek out one such door, joining the great outpouring of those fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world.
Mohsin Hamid writes regularly for The New York Times, the Guardian and the New York Review of Books, and is the author of The Reluctant Fundamentalist (shortlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize), Moth Smoke, How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia and Discontent and its Civilisations. Born in 1971, he was mostly raised in Lahore, and has since lived between Lahore, London and New York.
Lola Young on Exit West
‘The story of Exit West focuses on the movement of large numbers of people across the globe in search of freedom and a new life of one kind or another. The reasons may be clear or opaque – there’s no judgement about their motivation in Hamid’s emotionally intelligent, clear, crisp narrative. Saeed and Nadia are two of the many millions of people ready to sacrifice what they have for what they might gain, even as they recognise what they’re losing. By leaving out precise details of exactly which murderous ideological factions have dragged Nadia and Saeed’s hometown to the brink of destruction, Hamid allows us as readers to refer to our own knowledge and experience. In one sense, it doesn’t matter who is perpetrating the violence – it’s about those caught up literally and metaphorically in the crossfire. The mode of escape from armed conflict and oppression created by Hamid is at first startling. Once the couple has ‘arrived’ in new surroundings, the reader is challenged to think about where they would situate themselves in the circumstances described: whose side would you be on? Rather than deploying a documentary or realist narrative, Hamid goes for the human element, the depiction of an emotional landscape. Essentially, it’s a subtle, compact piece of writing about a relationship, its blossoming and its digressions, its highlights and its descent into something not quite love but not hatred or bitterness either.’
For further information, please contact Cat Mitchell at Hamish Hamilton
Tel: 020 7139 3548, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Published by JM Originals, John Murray
Daniel is heading north. He is looking for someone. The simplicity of his early life with Daddy and Cathy has turned sour and fearful. They lived apart in the house that Daddy built for them with his bare hands. They foraged and hunted. When they were younger, Daniel and Cathy had gone to school. But they were not like the other children then, and they were even less like them now.
Sometimes Daddy disappeared, and would return with a rage in his eyes. But when he was at home he was at peace. He told them that the little copse in Elmet was theirs alone. But that wasn't true. Local men, greedy and watchful, began to circle like vultures. All the while, the terrible violence in Daddy grew.
Elmet is a lyrical commentary on contemporary English society and one family's precarious place in it, as well as an exploration of how deep the bond between father and child can go.
Fiona Mozley was born in 1988 and grew up in York. She went to King's College, Cambridge, after which she lived in Buenos Aires and London. She is studying for a PhD in medieval history. Elmet is her first novel.
Tom Phillips on Elmet
‘Elmet is a forceful first novel that witnesses with the eyes of a child the struggle of a family to retain its self-sufficiency as the old ways succumb to the bland greed of the new normality. The unforgettable central figure is a heavyweight in all respects, a moodily philosophical bare-knuckle fighter, referred to as Daddy, who brings up his children in defiance of all social norms as he holds on to a tiny fragment of rural England. Timeless in its epic mixture of violence and love, it is also timely in its shadowy metaphor of doomed resistance to the encroachment of an ever more faceless world. The tale is told in vivid language whose poetry survives even its last dark catastrophe, with no punches pulled.’
For further information, please contact Yassine Belkacemi at JM Originals
Tel: 020 3122 7038, email: email@example.com
Lincoln in the Bardo
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
On 22 February 1862, two days after his death, Willie Lincoln is laid to rest in a marble crypt in a Georgetown cemetery. That very night, shattered by grief, his father Abraham arrives at the cemetery, alone, under cover of darkness.
Over the course of that evening, Abraham Lincoln paces the graveyard unsettled by the death of his beloved boy, and by the grim shadow of a war that feels as though it is without end. Meanwhile Willie is trapped in a state of limbo between the dead and the living – drawn to his father with whom he can no longer communicate, existing in a ghostly world populated by the recently passed and the long dead.
Unfolding in the graveyard over a single night, narrated by a dazzling chorus of voices, Lincoln in the Bardo is a thrilling exploration of death, grief and the deeper meaning and possibilities of life.
George Saunders was born in 1958 and is the author of nine books, including Tenth of December, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the inaugural Folio Prize (for the best work of fiction in English) and the Story Prize (best short-story collection). He has received MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships and the PEN/Malamud Prize for excellence in the short story, and was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2013, he was named one of the world’s 100 most influential people by Time magazine. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University.
Colin Thubron on Lincoln in the Bardo
‘This extraordinary work focuses on a single night in the life of Abraham Lincoln: an actual moment in 1862 when the body of his 11-year-old son was laid to rest in a Washington cemetery. Strangely and brilliantly, George Saunders activates this graveyard with the spirits of its dead. These have become distillations of the people they once were, still trapped in the Bardo of the book’s title, the Buddhist realm of souls in transition. The narratives of these carnivalesque characters veer between the terrifying and the hilarious, sometimes grotesque and unsettling, often funny and poignant. At the book’s centre remains the heartbreaking figure of Lincoln himself, visiting the graveyard in solitude, unaware of the spirits that populate it – a father stricken by a single death while the Civil War is claiming hundreds of thousands, and he must return to his duties. Greatly daring and accomplished, this is a novel with a rare capaciousness of mind and heart.’
For further information, please contact Ros Ellis at Bloomsbury
Tel: 020 7631 5727, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Published by Hamish Hamilton, Penguin Random House
Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. That's what it felt like for Keats in 1819.
How about Autumn 2016? Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic once-in-a-generation summer. Autumn is a meditation on a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, on what harvest means. This first in a seasonal quartet casts an eye over our own time. Who are we? What are we made of? Shakespearian jeu d'esprit, Keatsian melancholy, the sheer bright energy of 1960s Pop art: the centuries cast their eyes over our own history-making.
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 2001 Booker Prize and the Orange Prize and The Accidental was shortlisted for the 2005 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 2014 Man Booker and the Folio Prize. Ali Smith lives in Cambridge.
Lila Azam Zanganeh on Autumn
‘Ali Smith’s novel, Autumn, reads in part like a like song, the first instalment of a planned quartet about seasons. It opens in 2016, when Daniel is 101-years old and dying. His closest and only friend, Elisabeth, is 32, and she watches over him in a hospice outside of London. The UK has voted in favour of Brexit and, overnight, the fabric of the country seems to have changed. “The whole city’s in a storm at sea and that’s just the beginning,” Elisabeth says. For his part, Daniel, who was once a songwriter, is now thin as a skeleton, and his mind wanders through dream-states and memories. All about, the world as they knew it is coming to an end. The evening news, Elisabeth feels, is beginning to sound like “Thomas Hardy on speed.” Looming on the horizon is not just political but environmental doom. Autumn is an elegy for lost time, squandered beauty, but also for the loss of connections. It deftly questions what it means to be displaced in one’s own country, and surveys the extant possibility for wonder, storytelling and transformation. Ali Smith turns the novel into a lens of exploration between states that might appear disjointed, and she writes poetic prose, unique in its freedom and tempo, about the mysterious and melancholy nature of time.’
For further information, please contact Anna Ridley at Hamish Hamilton
Tel: 020 7139 3278, email: email@example.com