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Autumn

By: Ali Smith

Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Imprint: Anchor

Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9781101969946

Other Formats:

Electronic | Hardcover

On Sale: | Pages: 288

  • About the Book
  • 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.
With customary intrepidness, the celebrated Scottish author of several previous books of fiction raises questions about aging, the elasticity of friendship, aesthetic politics, and the meaning of fame.... Like any successful novel of ideas, “Autumn" doesn't end; it reverberates in one's bones, recalling Eugenio Montale's argument in “The Second Life of Art,” that the power of a book, painting, dance, or any art form is not a culminating catharsis but a recurring echo.... “Autumn" shimmers with wit, melancholy, grief, joy, wisdom, small acts of love and, always, wonder at the seasons.
—Boston Globe
...[a] beautiful, subtle work, the seventh novel by Smith, who consistently produces some of Britain's most exciting, ambitious and moving writing.... Smith teases out big ideas so slyly and lightly that you can miss how artfully she goes about it.... Smith's writing is light and playful, deceptively simple, skipping along like a stone on the surface of a lake, brimming with humanity and bending, despite everything, toward hope.... The best parts of “Autumn,” the most moving parts, the transcendent parts, come during Elisabeth and Daniel's conversations about words, art, life, books, the imagination, how to observe, how to be. Theirs is a conversation that begins mid-paragraph and never ends.
—New York Times
By placing the current political climate within the context of artistic and intellectual history, by reminding us --- through the mechanism of story --- that storytelling and art can help us make sense of circumstances, AUTUMN offers both perspective and consolation in what are, for many, troubling times. Readers will be eager to see where Smith will travel next on her journey through the four seasons.
—Bookreporter.com
History is one story, but then there are all the others waiting to happen, waiting only for someone to make them up. “And whoever makes up the story makes up the world,” Daniel counsels the 13-year-old Elisabeth, in a very serious game of make-believe. “So always try to welcome people into the home of your story.” This is guidance straight out of Ali Smith's playbook — and it makes for a novel that, under all its erudition, narrative antics, wit and wordplay, is a wonder of deep and accommodating compassion.
—Washington Post
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.... “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.... I suspect that this shrewd and dreamy, serious-but-not-solemn novel will be an uncommonly good audiobook, for people who are into that sort of thing. Spring can really hang you up the most, but for now I am struck by, and stuck on, “Autumn.”
—New York Times
The background events of “Autumn,” the first in a planned quartet, are remarkably recent, and Ms. Smith's haste to complete the novel is palpable. Just what do the digressions about Pop Art painter Pauline Boty have to do with the rest? But she gets away with indiscipline thanks to the punch-drunk brio of her prose, which 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.”
—Wall Street Journal
"Autumn" is another breathless feat. It might sound unseasonal, as if inhabiting another time, but in actual fact it engages acutely and beautifully with topical concerns and perennial issues.... "Autumn" feels less like a standard novel and more like an intricate collage of ideas and impressions. 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.... 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.
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
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