You don't need to own a Kindle device to enjoy Kindle books. Download one of our FREE Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on all your devices.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
This price was set by the publisher.
Autumn: SHORTLISTED for the Man Booker Prize 2017 (Seasonal Quartet Book 1) Kindle Edition
|New from||Used from|
|Length: 243 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
|Page Flip: Enabled||
Switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible narration. Add narration for a reduced price of $5.49 after you buy the Kindle book.
The best device for reading, full stop. Learn more
About the Author
Ali Smith is the author of many works of fiction, including the novel Hotel World, which was short-listed for both the Orange Prize and the Booker Prize as well as winning the Encore Award and the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award. The Accidental 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.--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
--Dwight Garner, The New York Times "[Elisabeth and Daniel] are each other's favorite people in the world, even though their paths cross only intermittently and he is 69 years old than she is. . . . Their extraordinary friendship forms the moral center of this 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 fearless and nonlinear, exploring the connectivity of things: between the living and the dead, the past and the present, art and life. She conveys time almost as it if is happening all at once, like Picasso trying to record an image from every angle simultaneously. . . . 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. . . . 'Whoever makes up the story makes up the world, ' Daniel says at one point, 'so always try to welcome people into the home of your story.' That's what Smith does, all the time, tries to welcome people in. The best parts in 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."
--Sarah Lyall, The New York Times Book Review "'All across the country, people felt it was the wrong thing. All across the country, people felt it was the right thing. All across the country, people felt they'd really lost. All across the country, people felt they'd really won.' That might sound like present-second America, but it's actually Scottish novelist Ali Smith--with a leg up from Dickens--describing post-Brexit Britain in Autumn, the first of a planned quartet of season-based novels. Smith is well known for taking an elastic approach to words. Here, she extends that courtesy to time itself. . . . Layered, resonant, and wittily clever, Autumn confirms that Smith is a novelist for our time--'time' meaning at least the next four years."
--Emily Donaldson, The Toronto Star "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. Thus Smith's autumnal leaves cling to trees as the questions and quandaries linger. . . . Autumn shimmers with wit, melancholy, grief, joy, wisdom, small acts of love and, always, wonder at the seasons."
--Valerie Miner, The Boston Globe "If authors can be seasonal, then Scottish writer Ali Smith is, to my mind, a summer novelist. Her fiction, even when it depicts upsetting events, has an Arcadian atmosphere reminiscent of As You Like It, as if her characters were wandering through a green glade on a sunny day. . . . Psychological complexity is not a hallmark of Smith's work, but its buoyancy and charm more than make up for that. In Britain, Smith has won the Whitbread, the Goldsmiths, and the Costa prizes, and has been shortlisted for the Man Booker three times. American readers ought to be better acquainted with her genius. . . . Smith knows how to tease the glory out of the most plainspoken English. . . . Smith's literary spirit is essentially playful, and in Autumn it finds its counterpart in a little-known (but real) painter of the Pop Art period, Pauline Boty. . . . Boty was beautiful and fearless, a free spirit who dabbling in acting and, as Elisabeth sees it, had the rare ability to represent female pleasure and joy on canvas. . . . You can see why Smith thinks of the painter as a kindred spirit. . . . Autumn's most daring formal move is to attempt the immediacy of journalism, depicting the national mood while the nation is still feeling it. . . . 'That's the thing about things, ' reads the novel's second sentence. 'They fall apart, always have, always will, it's in their nature.' But Autumn hopes to remind us that's as true of the bad things as it is of the good. . . . At first Smith's choice to start with autumn seemed out of character, but of course that means that this ambitious four-novel sequence will end with summer and Smith in her element. If we are all very lucky, perhaps the world will catch up with her there, too."
--Laura Miller, Slate "The stunning Autumn is the first of a projected quartet of seasonal novels by Scottish author Ali Smith. . . . Set in the factional, jingoistic post-Brexit United Kingdom--where 'what had happened whipped about itself as if a live electric wire had snapped off a pylon in a storm'--Autumn is a compact story of the unlikely friendship of two neighbors: Daniel, an iconoclastic old man with a house full of art, books and music, and Elisabeth, an impressionable, lonely young woman, 70 years his junior. . . . If fall is the twilight of the year, what will Smith's long cold winter bring--and better yet, her spring and summer? . . . A triumphant story of a May-December friendship within a divided Britain."
--Bruce Jacobs, Shelf Awareness "What kind of art will come out of this moment? If Ali Smith's Autumn is a harbinger of things to come, the work that emerges over the next decade will be extraordinarily rich. The novel, the first book in a quartet inspired by the seasons, considers post-Brexit Britain at the tail end of last summer, experienced through the perspective of a 32-year-old art history lecturer named Elisabeth. But its ambition and craft allude to--and cite--great works of literature, from Brave New World to The Tempest. Through Smith's dazzling, whimsical feats of imagination, a news cycle described by Elisabeth as 'Thomas Hardy on speed' becomes the backdrop for a modernist interrogation of history. Autumn, like Smith's last book, How to Be Both, is a gorgeously constructed puzzle that challenges the reader to solve it, with a narrative that darts back and forth in time and space. . . . As the novel proceeds, she layers together fragments of books and paintings and song lyrics in an act of literary decoupage, as if to mimic the fragile patchwork of national identity. . . . The work Autumn seems most indebted to is T.S. Eliot's Four Quartets, poems that are also structured loosely around the seasons, and in which nature has a symbolic power. Eliot, like Smith, considers time as a flexible entity, with memory a guiding force that allows people to find divine meaning in the universe. And Four Quartets, like Autumn, was written amid great national turmoil, during World War Two. But Smith has a kind of irrepressible sense of joy that peeks out through the darkness. . . . Smith, in reckoning with the catastrophe and wreckage of a fraught historical moment, picks through it just as precisely to reveal the beauty and the humanity buried deep below the surface."
--Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic "The first of a projected quartet, Autumn hovers around the season of harvest and final things, but the possibility of transformation is also very much in the air. . . . A novel that, under all its erudition, narrative antics, wit and wordplay, is a wonder of deep and accommodating compassion."
--Ellen Akins, The Washington Post
"Smith's novel plays an intimate melody against a broader dissonance, probing the friendship between an art historian and an aging songwriter as they grapple with personal predicaments and a perilous world."
--O, The Oprah Magazine Could Scottish writer Ali Smith be J.D. Salinger's natural heir? It's not as preposterous as it sounds. Not since Salinger's plucky English orphan, Esmé, soothed an American sergeant's no-longer-intact faculties at the end of World War II has a writer so artfully and heartrendingly captured the two-way lifeline between preternaturally wise children (mainly girls) and young-at-heart gentle souls (mainly men) who forge special friendships that have nothing predatory or Lolita-ish about them. . . . Autumn again knits together an astonishing array of seemingly disparate subjects, including mortality, unconventional love, Shakespeare's Tempest, a rhyming advertisement jingle, and the xenophobia underlying both Nazism and current populist neo-nationalism. . . . Smith is better at making tight connections than most airlines. . . . Free spirits and the lifeforce of art--along with kindness, hope, and a readiness 'to be above and beyond the foul even when we're up to our eyes in it'--are, when you get down to it, what Smith champions in this stirring novel.
--Heller McAlpin, NPR "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.'"
--Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal "I find reason for excitement when Ali Smith, with thirteen titles to her credit and numerous awards and honors, brings out a new work. A Scot now residing in London, she doesn't write 'state of Britain' novels. She is too subtle for that, but her work is clearly responsive to social and political issues. 'The first post-Brexit novel, ' some critics have called her latest work, Autumn. Indeed, the fact of the referendum, the emotions it raised, and the sense of ending--or beginning--that accompanied the vote run at times as a litany, lists of hopes or complaints, in a recitation of divisive uncertainty. What is certain is, as the title asserts, that a cycle is unfolding: winter seems to lie ahead. But the novel has aspects that subvert that fear. . . . The surprises abound in the novel, but the mood is balanced, reflective, mature. The prose styles vary, structure reflecting the hectic turns of public feeling, the abrupt shifts in time and mood. . . . But in inverse proportion to defeat is the great pleasure of the reading. Smith's prose is seductively simple, beguiling, its effects hard-won."
--Edward T. Wheeler, Commonweal "[Smith's] risk-taking, convention-defying fiction resembles a dizzying high-wire act performed above stiffer competition. Autumn is another breathless feat. . . . It engages acutely and beautifully with topical concerns and perennial issues. . . . Smith muses on art, literature and memory, plus the transience of life and the horror of Brexit. Some of her meditations are imbued with autumnal tones and textures (melancholy, regret, nostalgia); others are flecked with wit. As ever, Smith regales us with endless wordplay. . . . 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. . . . Autumn is the first installment of Smith's 'Seasonal' quartet. 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."
--Malcolm Forbes, Minneapolis Star Tribune "Hums with life. . . . [Smith] is indeed a writer in her prime. Autumn is clever and invigorating. The promise of three more books to come is something to be savored."
--Claire Hopley, The Washington Times "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. . . . [Autumn] offers a piercing view of an unsettled England in the aftermath of the 2016 Brexit vote. . . . Much of this novel's pleasure flows from Smith's supple prose. She indulges in word play with an almost Joycean zest."
--Harvey Freedenberg, BookPage "[A] vision of post-Brexit England. . . . Ekphrasis permeates the novel Autumn, which itself seeks to capture in words the fading, abstract beauty of that 'season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, ' as Romantic poet John Keats wrote in his ode To Autumn. . . . [Smith's] novel is marked with quiet, brave notes of hope."
--Olivia Ho, The Straits Times "Smith dances across dreamscape, memory, and reality in a novel by turns funny, touching, and fascinating--in terms of character and of history. The rare friendship of an old man and a young girl whose father has vanished (and whose mother disappears more than occasionally) becomes a vessel for salvation as her life is newly graced with love and with meaning. Old he may be but as she grows toward adulthood, her life infinitely enriched by the years spent with her highly cultured friend, his journey takes him back to the ghosts of his past, forward toward the darkening reality of the present world and of the world beyond. Trumpworld in America has nothing on the unpleasant present in England but Smith's light touch, transcendent imagination and never-cloying compassion transport us beyond the threat of evil and of old age, reminding us (thank God) of history's arc and of our own humanity. Each of Smith's novels is a wonder; Autumn is beyond wonderful."
--Betsy Burton, The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT "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. . . . Smith 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. . . . Smith, always one to take risks, sees all of them pay off yet again."
--Publishers Weekly (starred review) "At the heart of Man Booker Prize nominee Smith's new novel is the charming friendship between a lonely girl and a kind older man who offers her a world of culture. This novel of big ideas and small pleasures is enthusiastically recommended."
--Library Journal (starred review) "A girl's friendship with an older neighbor stands at the center of this multifaceted meditation on aging, art, love, and affection. . . . Smith has a gift for drawing a reader into whatever world she creates. . . . [Autumn is] compelling in its emotional and historical freight, its humor, and keen sense of creativity and loss."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred) "It is undoubtedly Smith at her best. . . . This book sets Smith's complex creative character in stone: puckish yet elegant, angry but comforting. Long may she Remain that way."
--Melissa Katsoulis, The Times (London) "Like Smith's previous novels, Autumn is an ambitious, multi-layered creation. . . . Smith is convincing as both a 12-year-old girl proud of her new rollerblades and a man living in a care home. . . . The story is rooted in autumn, and Smith writes lyrically about the changing seasons. . . . An energising and uplifting story."
--Susannah Butter, Evening Standard "Smith writes in a liltingly singsong prose that fizzes with exuberant punning and wordplay. . . . One stylistic device in particular stands out: a propensity for lengthy monologues, almost soliloquies, in which a certain word or phrase is repeated over and over, producing a rhetorically powerful rhythmic effect. . . . [Autumn's] patchwork aesthetic speaks to something authentic in the way many of us will have experienced not only the political crisis of the past few months--as consumers of online news media--but much else besides, as readers, watchers and listeners in the digital ecology. That sense of fragmentation and intertextual riffing, presaged in Boty's collages, is writ large in the remix dynamic of online cultural consumption, and it is this, as much as Smith's energetic, vibrant prose and topical setting, that makes it feel so compellingly contemporary. Nevertheless Autumn will primarily draw attention, and rightly so, for its appeal to conscience and common humanity--intergenerational, interracial, international--in these deeply worrying times."
--Houman Barekat, The Irish Times "Proving Smith's ambition and scope, Autumn is the first in a four-part series (the other titles will be Spring, Winter and Summer). . . . If the first instalment is anything to go by, the series is destined to become a canon classic. . . . This is the first novel, to my mind, to significantly address post-Brexit Britain. . . . That Smith has done so with such impressive sleight of hand, and with such expediency, is incredible. . . . As Daniel notes: 'Time travel is real. We do it all the time, moment to moment.' This, ultimately, is the backbone of the book. As concepts go, it's simple, but a brilliant and breathtaking one."
--Tanya Sweeney, The Irish Independent "Uplifting and satirical. . . . A beautiful meditation. . . . The relationships and people . . . are really special. Elisabeth Demand is a thirtysomething lecturer in London with a wryly detached view of the modern world. It is the time she spends with 101-year-old former neighbour Daniel Gluck, both in the present and the past, that really hits home--their strange companionship giving Smith the chance to muse on the nature of love, art, life and, well, what the referendum has done to Britain. . . . Given this is the first of a quintet of season-based novels that explore time, Winter can't come soon enough. Smith is at the very peak of her powers."
--Ben East, The National (Arts & Life) "Already acknowledged as one of the most inventive novelists writing in Britain today, with her new novel, Autumn, Ali Smith also proves herself to be one of the country's foremost chroniclers, her finger firmly on the social and political pulse. . . . In Autumn time is something the warp and weft of which can be bent on a whim: past, present and strange timeless limbos exist alongside each other. . . . One of the delights of her work is its down to earth realism. . . . Autumn displays much of the mischievous innovation that defines Smith's writing."
--Lucy Scholes, The Independent (London) "A free-floating meditation on time, memory and the transience of existence, in which ideas swirl round like fallen leaves. . . . As always Smith is witty. . . . Laugh-out-loud funny. . . . [But] also dense with allusions and insights into our current malaise. . . . Teem[s] with interesting language, images and ideas."
--Dana Garavelli, The National "Autumn is a beautiful, poignant symphony of memories, dreams and transient realities; the 'endless sad fragility' of mortal lives."
--Joanna Kavenna, The Guardian (London) "Impressionistic and intricate. . . . The first serious Brexit novel. . . . Smith is brilliant on what the referendum has done to Britain, the fissures that have appeared in the semi-rural landscape of her mother's East Anglian home. . . . At once sardonic and heartbreaking. . . . I can think of few writers--Virginia Woolf is one, James Salter another--so able to propel a narrative through voice alone. Smith's use of free indirect discourse, the close-third-person style that puts the reader at once within and without her characters, means that Autumn, for all its braininess, is never difficult. Smith feels like a genial guide leading us through a torrent of ideas--about art, history, literature, feminism, memory. This is a novel that works by accretion, appearing light and playful, surface-dwelling, while all the time enacting profound changes on the reader's heart. In a country apparently divided against itself, a writer such as Smith, who makes you feel known, who seems to speak to your own private weirdnesses, is more valuable than a whole parliament of politicians."
--Alex Preston, Financial Times "[a novel] very much of our time, grappling with societies in the midst of apocalyptic change and trying to imagine what might come next."
-The Spinoff --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
- ASIN : B01C3NCZOU
- Publisher : Penguin; 1st edition (20 October 2016)
- Language : English
- File size : 6507 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Screen Reader : Supported
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 243 pages
- Best Sellers Rank: 67,431 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Review this product
Top reviews from Australia
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Oh my, what to make of this book? I’ve not read Ali Smith before, and I can’t recall anything that was quite the mix of poetry, history, art, family dynamics, and philosophy – not to mention politics.
I love her writing – I would have enjoyed the Pop Art more if I’d had any idea who the artist was (link below). And I’m overloaded with politics and populism and Brexit, so less of that would have suited me better, because I was really enjoying the “story”, but that’s probably just me.
Briefly, a fatherless, intellectual girl, to the disapproval of her carefree, careless mother, befriends an elderly neighbour who whets her appetite for art, literature and truth. While bemoaning the current (2016) state of the world, he encourages her to keep looking ahead with hope.
When I finished reading, I was struck by how Smth's tone moved from poetic to conversational to funny and downright crude in a way that reminded me of Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar.
The book opens with someone on a beach, seeing dead bodies, seeing his own old body, deciding he must have died and a bit miffed to find he didn’t get his young body back, as he’d always assumed he would. The scene drifts around so oddly, that we’re left wondering what to make of it.
Then we meet Elisabeth Demand, today, when she’s 32, dealing with a bureaucratic stuffed shirt at the post office in an attempt to get her passport renewed. Very funny scenes. He delights in telling her: “It’s a nine times out of ten-er that something’s not going to be right with this.”
So of course, since he’s in charge, something isn’t right. Her hair is too close to her face (“It’s on my head, Elisabeth says. That’s where it grows. And my face is also attached to my head”).
There is a lot of humour throughout the book. There’s also a fair whack of political philosophy (or philosophical politics, depending how you view Brexit and current US politics).
Smith moves us smoothly back and forth from Elisabeth’s childhood to today. Today, she’s visiting Daniel Gluck, the old neighbour (101?) in a care facility. He has been a major life influence, introducing her, by verbal description only, to the art of Pauline Boty, because the paintings had disappeared.
And he talks at length about The Scandal, referring to what I know as the Profumo Affair, where model Christine Keeler had dalliances with both English and Russian officials during the same period of time.
He’s probably in his 80s when they meet, he’s quick, funny, and entertaining. I love how Smith describes Elisabeth’s surprise when she sneaks next door at the age of nine to meet him.
“If he 'was’ very old, the neighbour, he didn’t look anything like the people who were meant to be it on TV who always seemed as if they were trapped inside a rubber mask, not just a face-sized mask, but one that went the length of the body from head to foot, and if you could tear it off or split it open it was like you’d find an untouched unchanged young person inside, who’d simply step cleanly out of the old fake skin, like the skin after you take out the inner banana. When they were trapped inside that skin, though, the eyes of people, at least the people in all the films and comedy programmes, looked desperate, like they were trying to signal to outsiders without giving the game away that they’d been captured by empty aged selves which were now keeping them alive inside them for some sinister reason, like those wasps that lay eggs inside other creatures so their hatchlings will have something to eat. Except the other way round, the old self feeding off the young one. All that was left would be the eyes, pleading, trapped behind the eyeholes.”
And I loved this poetic description of Autumn:
“OCTOBER’S A BLINK OF THE EYE. The apples weighing down the tree a minute ago are gone and the tree’s leaves are yellow and thinning. A frost has snapped millions of trees all across the country into brightness. The ones that aren’t evergreen are a combination of beautiful and tawdry, red orange gold the leaves, then brown, and down.
The days are unexpectedly mild. It doesn’t feel that far from summer, not really, if it weren’t for the underbite of the day, the lacy creep of the dark and the damp at its edges, the plants calm in the folding themselves away, the beads of the condensation on the webstrings hung between things.”
Thanks so much to NetGalley and Penguin / Hamish Hamilton for the preview copy from which I’ve quoted.
I suggest readers who don't know the Profumo Affair or Christine Keeler or Pauline Boty look them up to make this more fun.
Top reviews from other countries
So let me tell you about this novel: what I loved, what I liked, what moved me and what annoyed me. Hopefully you’ll get to know enough about me and the novel to decide for yourself whether it’s worth the investment of the cover price and your time.
For me, this book is defined by the author’s love of words and her imagery. She indulges in little asides, just playing with sounds and meaning, and she builds vivid word pictures, often using images from nature. You’ll also find some rather apposite political comment, which perhaps non-British readers may find puzzling. Some of you may find all this distracts attention from the plot, but this is a book which doesn’t have much of a story.
I didn’t mind too much that there was no complex intrigue and mystery to keep my attention. The odd thing is that it has just the right amount of story: the relationship between a young girl and an elderly neighbour and the vigil, twenty years or so later, when the old man is dying. That’s about it for the plot: just enough to give a sense of direction and purpose to the book. But the beauty of the writing transcends what is a very basic tale.
The other aspect that struck me about this novel was not just the brilliant and convincing characterisations, but the insightful way the writer explores the relationships between the characters. Old Daniel disseminating the wisdom of age to the girl narrator, her wonder at how he forces her to discover things about life that she would never otherwise have noticed! The air of secrecy that envelopes their association; that way the girl shuts her mother out from it! How she decides, as an adult, that what she had with Daniel is the real true form of love. If you believe like me that good writing should make you see the world in a new way, this book is for you.
The illuminating look at inter-relationships isn’t restricted to the main two characters. We also get a deeper understanding of how the narrator interacts with her mother, and then with her tutor at university, and even with the subject of her history of art thesis.
So what we have here is scintillating writing about how we relate to one another. I loved it.
Reviewed by Jim Gault author of Ogg The Redemption of Anna Petrovna https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B075Y1ZFPT
Approached indirectly, this novel is a celebration of the existence of the Pop artist Pauline Boty who died young, told mostly through the eyes of her former admirer Daniel who is now lying in bed, apparently dying but not quite, and through the remembered experience of Elisabeth who listened to him as a child and watched the films he loved. It is an account of the way Daniel influenced Elisabeth as a young woman, parenting her when her mother did not – and helped her see the world around her. And it is an account of her mother’s falling in love with another woman in mid life. And it is an elegy for the autumn of 2016 – when the Brexit vote allowed migrants and refugees to be abused – and a reflection on the experience of different generations as century-old Daniel was a refugee from Nazi Germany.
Some lovely language spoiled by pretentious referencing and attempts to shoehorn in Brexit references.
Not inspired to read Winter.