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Autumn
by Ali Smith


Overview - MAN BOOKER PRIZE FINALIST
A New York Times Best Book of the Year
Long-listed for the Gordon Burn Prize

Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. That's what it felt like for Keats in 1819. How about Autumn 2016?  Read more...


 
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More About Autumn by Ali Smith
 
 
 
Overview
MAN BOOKER PRIZE FINALIST
A New York Times Best Book of the Year
Long-listed for the Gordon Burn Prize

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. 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 growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, on what harvest means. It is the first installment of her Seasonal quartet--four stand-alone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as the seasons are)--and it casts an eye over our own time. Who are we? What are we made of? Shakespearean jeu d'esprit, Keatsian melancholy, the sheer bright energy of 1960s pop art: the centuries cast their eyes over our own history making.

Here's where we're living. Here's time at its most contemporaneous and its most cyclic.

From the imagination of the peerless Ali Smith comes a shape-shifting series, wide-ranging in time-scale and light-footed through histories, a story about aging and time and love and stories themselves.

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9781101870730
  • ISBN-10: 1101870737
  • Publisher: Pantheon Books
  • Publish Date: February 2017
  • Page Count: 272
  • Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.93 pounds


Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Literary
Books > Fiction > Cultural Heritage
Books > Fiction > Women

 
BookPage Reviews

An elegiac story of two odd, old friends

In her new novel, the always intriguing Ali Smith portrays an odd friendship between a centenarian and the neighbor girl—now a young woman—he cared for in her childhood. Smith blends conventional realist narrative with passages that read almost like prose poems to create an elegiac story that’s decidedly more than the sum of its parts.

Daniel Gluck, once a songwriter and former “unofficial babysitter” to Elisabeth Demand, awaits his death in a nursing home. In the present, we penetrate Daniel’s consciousness to share some of his hallucinatory dreams, and through flashbacks, Smith gently reveals how this kindly, unassuming man served as a mentor to his young charge. Now in her early 30s, Elisabeth is a junior lecturer in art history, struggling with her doctoral thesis.

Drawing back from this intimate tableau, Autumn also offers a piercing view of an unsettled England in the aftermath of the 2016 Brexit vote. “All across the country,” Smith writes in a terse chapter whose every sentence begins with those words, “there was misery and rejoicing,” echoing the opening passage of A Tale of Two Cities, quoted by Elisabeth in her bedside reading to Daniel.

Much of this novel’s pleasure flows from Smith’s supple prose. She indulges in word play with an almost Joycean zest (offering an homage to him in a brief allusion to his iconic Dubliners story, “The Dead”). Autumn is the first installment of a projected quartet of “seasonal” novels. Impressionistic in character, it’s a book to be read less for any conventional plot than for its skill in stimulating a reflective mood.

This article was originally published in the February 2017 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews