MAN BOOKER PRIZE FINALIST
A New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, Financial Times, Southern Living, The Guardian, and Kirkus Reviews 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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
There is strange magic in Ali Smith’s story of an unlikely friendship—and the bitter aftermath of Brexit. Time seemed to warp whenever we picked up Autumn, which is bursting with Smith’s dazzling wordplay and her faith in humanity. Elisabeth Demand first meets Daniel Gluck when she’s a young student tasked with writing a profile of a neighbor. Separated by many decades but united in their curiousity and passion for art, the two develop a lifelong connection. Smith has written an extraordinarily beautiful story that perfectly encapsulates the gift of wonder and the tragedy of societies that give up on it.
This splendid free-form novel the first in a seasonally themed tetralogy chronicles the last days of a lifelong friendship between Elisabeth, a British university lecturer in London, and her former neighbor, a centenarian named Daniel. Opening with an oblique, dreamy prologue about mortality, the novel proper sets itself against this past summer's historic Brexit vote, intermittently flashing back to the early years of Elisabeth and Daniel's relationship. Though there are a few relevant subplots, including Elisabeth's nightmarish attempt to procure a new passport, as well as her fascination with the painter Pauline Boty, the general plot is appropriately shapeless, reflecting the character's discombobulated psyche. Smith (How to Be Both) deftly juxtaposes her protagonists' physical and emotional states in the past and present, tracking Elisabeth's path from precocity to disillusionment. Eschewing traditional structure and punctuation, the novel charts a wild course through uncertain terrain, an approach that excites and surprises in equal turn. Seen through Elisabeth's eyes, Daniel's deterioration is particularly affecting. Smith, always one to take risks, sees all of them pay off yet again.
Customer ReviewsSee All
What was that?
This book was not as advertised. Beautiful choice of words but poorly put together. In the end, the book left me with more questions rather then answers.