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The Collage Police

Christian Lorentzen: Ali Smith, 8 March 2018

Autumn 
by Ali Smith.
Penguin, 272 pp., £8.99, August 2017, 978 0 241 97331 8
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Winter 
by Ali Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 336 pp., £16.99, November 2017, 978 0 241 20702 4
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... Several factors​ contribute to the innocuousness of Ali Smith’s current project. She’s now published two novels of her projected ‘Seasonal Quartet’: Autumn, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and Winter. These books don’t share characters or continuity but constitute a rapid-response literary gloss on the Brexit crisis ...

The Absolute End

Theo Tait: Ali Smith, 26 January 2012

There but for the 
by Ali Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 356 pp., £16.99, June 2011, 978 0 241 14340 7
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... I felt especially sympathetic because one of the books whose absence was most complained of was Ali Smith’s There but for the. Jeanette Winterson said that Smith’s novel, about a dinner-party guest who hides in his hosts’ spare bedroom and refuses to come out, was a ‘wonderful, word-playful’ book ...

Dropped Stitches

Justine Jordan: Ali Smith, 1 July 1999

Other Stories and Other Stories 
by Ali Smith.
Granta, 177 pp., £9.99, March 1999, 1 86207 186 1
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... way of other stories,’ the narrator tells a lover in ‘A story of love’, the final piece in Ali Smith’s second collection: ‘The end.’ This narrowly beats the previous shortest short story: ‘The last man on earth sat in a room. There came a knock at the door.’ In most of Smith’s stories one event sets ...

Caricature Time

Clair Wills: Ali Smith calls it a year, 8 October 2020

Summer 
by Ali Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 384 pp., £16.99, August, 978 0 241 20706 2
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... Mothers​ have a hard time in Ali Smith’s novels. I mean that Smith gives them a hard time, as well as acknowledging the hard time they’ve had already, just getting this far, in one piece. In Summer, the final novel of Smith’s seasons quartet, the harried mother is Grace ...

The day starts now

Eleanor Birne: On holiday with Ali Smith, 23 June 2005

The Accidental 
by Ali Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 306 pp., £14.99, May 2005, 0 241 14190 7
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... All three of Ali Smith’s novels are set in holiday places. In Like (1997), Amy Shone and her daughter Kate live on a caravan site in Scotland; the characters of Hotel World (2001) are guests and workers at the Global Hotel in an unnamed city; in The Accidental, the new book, the Smart family are spending their summer in a mock-Tudor holiday house near the Norfolk Broads ...

At the Hayward

Marina Warner: Tracey Emin, 25 August 2011

... decisions and deceptions. ‘Hotel International’ (1993) The American artist Kiki Smith is one of the women artist storytellers who ‘thinks with her body’ – as Emin learned to do, she tells us in her odd and powerful memoir Strangeland (2005), while growing up in Margate (the title of the book picks up on the resort’s once famous ...

Play for Today

Adam Smyth: Rewriting ‘Pericles’, 24 October 2019

Spring 
by Ali Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 336 pp., £16.99, March 2019, 978 0 241 20704 8
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The Porpoise 
by Mark Haddon.
Chatto, 309 pp., £18.99, May 2019, 978 1 78474 282 9
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... when my mother died, This world to me is like a lasting storm, Whirring me from my friends. Ali Smith’s​  Spring is patterned with references to Pericles and has, at its heart, narratives of migration against the odds, and family separation and reunion. It isn’t an adaptation because Pericles is only the loudest in a chorus of voices ...

Miss Dior, Prodigally Applied

Ian Patterson: Jilly Cooper, 18 May 2017

Mount! 
by Jilly Cooper.
Corgi, 610 pp., £7.99, February 2017, 978 0 552 17028 4
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... echoes and associations. Cooper shares a fondness for both wordplay and wise children with Ali Smith, but while there are similarities in the way they behave and the fun they have with language, their presence in the text works in quite opposite ways. Smith uses her precocious girls to direct our attention to ...

Diary

Stephen Smith: In Mogadishu, 23 July 1992

... run Barre out of town than it stopped being united. A rift emerged between the interim president, Ali Mahdi Mohamed, and his chief of staff. General Mohamed Farah Aideed. It was a consequence of Ali Mahdi’s willingness to entertain the idea of a compromise with Barre. But its origins lie deeper, in Somalia’s history of ...

It has burned my heart

Anna Della Subin: Lives of Muhammad, 22 October 2015

The Lives of Muhammad 
by Kecia Ali.
Harvard, 342 pp., £22.95, October 2014, 978 0 674 05060 0
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... in ‘Turk’ or Sunni Islam. An arch-nemesis was invented for Muhammad called ‘Mortus Ali’, a mutation of the prophet’s son-in-law Ali, venerated by Shiites as the first imam. In 1649, not long after the execution of Charles I, the first English translation of the Quran appeared. Its Royalist translator had ...

Diary

Rory Stewart: In Afghanistan, 11 July 2002

... When Ali brought out his Koran I thought of Tony Blair. It was February 2002. The Taliban had retreated, having burned Ali’s village to the ground. Four feet of snow had closed the passes into Bamiyan and all the roads were laid with anti-vehicle mines. Ali opened the carved wooden box, kissed the bundle, unwrapped it carefully, said a prayer and opened the book ...

Nodding and Winking

Stephen W. Smith: Françafrique, 11 February 2010

... He was on holiday in Florida at the time but he’d rung up the top brass in Libreville, including Ali Bongo Ondimba, the son and likely successor of Omar Bongo Ondimba, Gabon’s ruler for 42 years, who’d died a few weeks earlier. In 1967, Bongo Sr, then 32 and an early recruit to the French secret services, had been installed in the presidency by Jacques ...

More Pain, Better Sentences

Adam Mars-Jones: Satire and St Aubyn, 8 May 2014

Lost for Words 
by Edward St Aubyn.
Picador, 261 pp., £12.99, May 2014, 978 0 330 45422 3
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Books 
by Charlie Hill.
Tindal Street, 192 pp., £6.99, November 2013, 978 1 78125 163 8
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... Jim Crace fell from the sky. Alison Moore and Henry Sutton and Hilary Mantel fell from the sky, Ali Smith and Marcus Mills too. Their books fell from the sky in their thousands, parachuted into parks and on to roundabouts in towns and cities across the barren and would-be suburban land. The heavens opened and the sky streamed ink; it poured with hope ...

Agents of Their Own Abuse

Jacqueline Rose: The Treatment of Migrant Women, 10 October 2019

... or investigators (even rarer), is spared. ‘We will do as we are told,’ the writer Ali Smith thinks to herself as she makes her way through the four security checks on the way to the cell of the detainee she has been given permission to meet. When one trafficked woman refused to respond under questioning, her failure to do so was treated ...

Fundamentally Goyish

James Wood: Zadie Smith, 3 October 2002

The Autograph Man 
by Zadie Smith.
Hamish Hamilton, 420 pp., £16.99, September 2002, 0 241 13998 8
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... kid with EkaSystems Inc, and earning at least half a million a year . . . Alas, much of Zadie Smith’s second novel reads like this. (It’s better written, but she had two years, and I had two minutes.) White Teeth, for all its many miracles, occasionally revealed a cartoonish energy that at times seemed to amount to a fear of silence, a perpetual ...

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