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How to be Both


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About the Author

ALI SMITH's works of fiction include the novel Hotel World, which was short-listed for both the Orange Prize and the 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 Broadband Prize for Fiction. Her story collections include Free Love, which won a Saltire Society First Book of the Year Award and a Scottish Arts Council Award, The Whole Story and Other Stories, and How to be Both, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and won the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction in 2015. Born in Inverness, Scotland, Smith lives in Cambridge, England.


Magical * Sunday Times *
Radical, dazzling . . . Those writers making doomy predictions about the death of the novel should read Smith's re-imagined novel/s, and take note of the life it contains * Independent *
How to be both is a demanding, restless, brain-ache of a book that is simultaneously a delight and a challenge...What happens here is that you have to let go and revel in life's poetry. The effect is magical * Sunday Times *
Ali Smith is an unrepentant stylist...How to be both reads as if she has summoned words from some region of the unconscious and released them in a trance...Smith's fervent, vital, incantatory prose is entirely her own -- Joanna Kavenna * Prospect *
Dealing with grief, obsession, sexuality and the versatility of art itself, Smith has created a stunning work that is as rewarding as it is challenging * The List *
Dazzling * Independent *
Stunning * The List *
This warm, funny, subtle, layered, intelligent book deserves to be read at least one-and-a-half times -- Honor Clerk * Spectator *
Utterly contemporary and vividly historical -- Holly Williams * The Independent *
Vital * Prospect *
One of the most inventive writers alive and when she starts to have fun with language, and even the idea of what a book should be, the result is exciting, full of joy and wryly funny * Emerald Street *
Ali Smith is a one-off. Her imagination and originality make her one of the most exciting novelists of her generation and for such a profound book this is a remarkably easy and immensely enjoyable read. Both George and Francesco touch the heart and their thoughts and ideas linger on in the mind long after the final page. * Daily Express *
Smith is the brightest spark in a recent explosion of female novelists taking dizzying risks with form and voice . . . most contemporary male authors feel Jurassic by comparison. * Metro *
A marvellous exploration of what it means to look, then look again. Spiralling and twisting stories suggest the ways in which we can transcend walls and barriers - not only between people but between emotions, art forms and historical periods. It is a jeu d'esprit about a girl coming of age and coming to terms with her mother's death, a ghosting of a Renaissance fresco painter in a twenty-first-century frame and an exhortation to do the twist -- Sarah Churchwell * New Statesman Books of the Year 2014 *
Brilliant. No one combines experimentalism and soulfulness like Ali Smith -- Craig Taylor * Observer Books of the Year *
Dizzingly good and so clever that it makes you want to dance * New Statesman *
Ali Smith's novels soar higher every time and How to be both doesn't disappoint -- Julie Myerson * Observer *
Two of the most rewarding reads of the year were wrapped up in one book: Ali Smith's How to Be Both (Hamish Hamilton), a novel in two sections published to be read in either order. Bringing together the effervescent narratives of an Italian Renaissance fresco painter and a modern teenager, the book explored love, art and possibility with an extraordinary freshness that won it a Booker shortlisting and the Goldsmiths prize for originality. * Guardian *
I've decided - and I do not write this flippantly - that Ali Smith is a genius * LA Review of Books *
Many of this novel's great joys derive from Smith's ability to tie together the two seemingly disparate stories in wonderful and unexpected ways. It's a meditative book, steeped in the voices of these characters. . . . Ali Smith is a master storyteller, and How to Be Both is a charming and erudite novel that can quite literally make us rethink the way we read -- Andrew Ervin * The Philadelphia Inquirer *
Captivating. . . . Your experience of the novel will be different depending on which story you start with. But either way, the revelations and conclusions will be the same. How to Be Both indeed works both ways, demonstrating not only the power of art itself but also the mastery of Smith's prose * San Francisco Chronicle *
A synthesis of questions long contemplated by an extraordinarily thoughtful author, who succeeds quite well in implanting those questions into well-drawn, memorable people * The New York Times *
An entirely delightful and moving story with characters so endearing and human that you want to remark, as Francesco's mother does about her daughter's drawing, 'It's very good. Well seen.'. . . When you reach the end of this playful and wise novel, you want to turn to the beginning and read it again to piece together its mysteries and keep both halves simultaneously in mind. Reading Ali Smith's How to Be Both is like finishing a cake and having another delicious one still before you to enjoy * The Dallas Morning News *
How to be both celebrates the gift of surprise. . . . I found myself smiling again and again, caught unawares by how well and how beautifully Smith ties together so many seemingly disparate elements. . . . The past and present are connected through an Internet search, themes of death and memory are explored, pop culture and high art swirl together, and careful research allows the line between fiction and history to blur -- Betty Scott * Bookslut *
Inventive, playful, compassionate. An immensely enjoyable read. * Daily Express *

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