How to be Both

by Ali Smith

eBooks of the Month Modern and Classic Literary Fiction

LoveReading View on How to be Both

Winner of the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction 2015.

Winner of the Costa Novel Award 2014.

Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2014 this is an unusual and highly inventive novel. It is in fact two related novellas. In one we meet George, a 16 year old girl whose mother has just died and who’s trying to navigate her own grief whilst keeping her father away from a quick descent to alcoholism and protect her brother from his grief. This story shifts between the present and a time before her mother’s death so we discover a little more about their relationship. Crucially George’s mother introduces her to the work of an Italian renaissance artist, Francesco del Cossa, just before she dies and George plays truant to visit the National Gallery to see more of his work and work through her grief. The other story sees the ghost of Francesco summoned suddenly to the National Gallery in 21st Century London to be the familiar of a girl called George who’s becoming strangely obsessed with Francesco. The stories can and are designed to be read in either order and indeed copies were printed with the story order changed so some readers get it one way and others the other. Complicated but hugely rewarding and a fascinating way of absorbing a story.

 

The Costa Judges said Smith's novel was “Dazzlingly imagined and daringly inventive, it’s both resonant and moving.”

 

Winner of the Goldsmiths Prize 2014.

Shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize 2014.

One of our Books of the Year 2014.

Sarah Broadhurst

How to be Both Synopsis

How to be both is the dazzling new novel by Ali Smith. It is longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2014. Passionate, compassionate, vitally inventive and scrupulously playful, Ali Smith's novels are like nothing else. How to be both is a novel all about art's versatility. Borrowing from painting's fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it's a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions. There's a renaissance artist of the 1460s. There's the child of a child of the 1960s. Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real - and all life's givens get given a second chance.

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The Good Book Guide Review

Ali Smith is without doubt one of Britain’s most adventurous novelists. Here she cleverly combines two stories that are five hundred years apart. In one, we meet George, a teenage girl full of angst and anger struggling to come to terms with the death of her mother and frustrated by her father’s inadequacies. On their last holiday together, George visited Italy with her mother and was introduced to the work of Francesco del Cossa, a renaissance artist about whom very little is known. The tale of Francesco makes up the other half of the book, with Smith imagining the young artist as a girl having to hide her sexuality to fulfil her ambition of becoming an artist in a man’s world. This extremely clever novel works on many levels and asks many questions about art, history, sexuality and surveillance. Do we exist if no one sees us?

How to be Both Press Reviews

'Smith can make anything happen, which is why she is one of our most exciting writers today.'

- Daily Telegraph

 

'She's a genius, genuinely modern in the heroic, glorious sense .'

- Alain de Botton

 

'I take my hat off to Ali Smith. Her writing lifts the soul .'

- Evening Standard

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9780241145210
Publication date: 28/08/2014
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton Ltd an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9780241145210
Publication date: 28th August 2014
Author: Ali Smith
Publisher: Hamish Hamilton Ltd an imprint of Penguin Books Ltd
Format: Hardback
Genres: eBook Favourites, Literary Fiction,
Categories:

About Ali Smith

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 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 Prize, the Goldsmiths Prize and the Costa Novel Award and was ...

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