Autumn by Ali Smith


A breathtakingly inventive new novel from the Man Booker-shortlisted and Baileys Prize-winning author of How to be both.Fusing Keatsian mists and mellow fruitfulness with the vitality, the immediacy and the colour-hit of Pop Art (via a bit of very contemporary skulduggery and skull-diggery), 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 m...

Details Autumn

Release DateOct 20th, 2016
PublisherHamish Hamilton
Number of pages258 pages
GenreFiction, European Literature, British Literature, Literature, 21st Century

Reviews Autumn

  • Diane S ☔
    Ali Smith is not an easy author to read and yet her words and thoughts are beautiful. If you like a linear plot, you will not find it here, though it is mostly set in the period after Brexit, it goes back and forth in time. To a friendship between a young girl and an elderly man, a man who had quite a past, which is slowly uncovered. The thoughts expressed about Brexit are the same many are expressing here in the states after our recent election....
  • Ilse
    This is EnglandAutumn is to be the first instalment of ‘a seasonal quartet’ that Ali Smith plans to write - a cycle ‘exploring the subjective experience of time, questioning the nature of time itself'. Triggered to read it by the title – autumn is my favourite season – this first instalment was a wondrous introduction to Smith’s prose for me, so I eagerly look forward to the next parts now.Autumn is a playful, multi-layered and at tim...
  • Seemita
    [A formidable 3.5][Originally appeared here:]She has done it in the past; and she does it again here. Ali Smith’s fixation on, and a visible mastery of, story-telling across timeline, in no particular order, shines in this experimental, breezy novel as well.Centred around the 30-something Elisabeth Demand and her centenarian friend, Daniel Gluck, Autumn is a long, vibrant, occasionally melancholic, somet...
  • PattyMacDotComma
    4.5★ (Read and reviewed February 28, 2017)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 h...
  • Gill
    December 2016I re-read this at the start of December and still think about it. I've upgraded it to 5 stars.'Autumn' by Ali Smith4.5 stars/ 9 out of 10From the opening sentence (which is referential to the opening of one of Dickens' novels), to the end of this novel, Ali Smith has created a beautiful story which can be read on many levels. Ostensibly it is the story of the friendship between a young woman and an elderly man, that started when the ...
  • Teresa
    4.5Death, Dickens, refugees, trees, fear, old age, Brexit, friendship, Shakespeare, love, lies, Christine Keeler, art, fences, stories, Pauline Boty (lots of the lovely Pauline Boty), seeing, Keats, disillusionment, rebirth, Ovid, exclusion, women, awakening.(Even 'Trump' is a one-word sentence within the novel, though I hesitate to add it to the list, except to note that it adds to the contemporaneity. Perhaps she means the verb and it's an impe...
  • Susan
    This short novel is the first in a seasonal quartet – each a standalone book, but interconnected. I was listening to a podcast, “Books and Authors” set during the Edinburgh Festival, and somebody mentioned Ali Smith reading from her new work, which mentioned Brexit shortly after the result had been announced. That was this work and Smith perfectly captures that strange atmosphere which pervaded the country during that time. Indeed, every co...
  • MJ Nicholls
    Ali Smith is a prolific story writer, critic, and playwright, but her novels alone have blasted her into the mesosphere of critical adulation, and this first part of an exciting seasonal quartet furthers her familiar brand of humorous, gentle, playful, and bedazzling brilliance. Timehopping across the century, the novel focuses on the adopted father relationship between an art lecturer and an enigmatic former dancer, lyricist, and sixties art sce...
  • Emma
    At first I couldn't be sure whether I loved or hated this short novel. Ali Smith's language is like a maze for the mind. It's both stilted and beautiful, a stream of consciousness that reworks the reader's own thoughts into a new pattern. It feels like a freeing of the consciousness but also like a new set of walls. It takes you outside your own experience of time, but forces you into someone else's, stating with a character's death dreamscape. I...
  • Paul Fulcher
    Pauline Boty with her, now lost, painting Scandal 63 based on (a variation of) the famous Christine Keeler photographic portrait by Lewis Morley.For my full review of Autumn please see the excellent Mookse and Gripes blog (to which this review is my first contribution). to my own review: It was interesting to read in her Artful a quote from the narrator of Juan Pablo Villalobos's Down the Rabbit H...
  • BrokenTune
    Ali Smith just gets me.Review to follow.
  • Bianca
    Autumn is the first Ali Smith novel I've read. I am so happy to have, at last, made her acquaintance. Because this novel is so god damn good. It's also challenging. Or at least, I found it challenging at times. But I like this type of challenge. Most of the time, I was just blown away by the observations and the wonderful prose. Occasionally, when the story took a somewhat esoteric, fantastic turn, I wasn't sure I was getting it or what Smith was...
  • Blair
    A few days ago, I read an article that proclaimed Mohsin Hamid's forthcoming Exit West, out next March, 'the first post-Brexit novel', but it looks like Ali Smith will be beating him to it. [I wrote this last week and have just noticed that yesterday's Guardian review by Joanna Kavenna says the same thing. Well, without mentioning Hamid's book. That'll teach me to be lazy about finishing reviews!!] Autumn, due to be published next week, is so fir...
  • Neil
    Updated review after re-read.I still love this book. On a second reading, a few months after the events it depicts, it feels less of a "now" novel but the story and the details stand out more. I felt less drawn to the Brexit-y bits and more involved in Elisabeth's and Daniel's story. I noticed more about the clever structure of the book to take you through those stories. I appreciated the language more. I understood better how Pauline Boy fits in...
  • Cathrine
    Ali is a window to my soul.This time in: Autumn.It was the best of books, it was the best of books. As many of you know I love all things Ali.I have read every word she has ever written or rather, every word she has published.She never lets me down.But this here book.This.Is pure, raw Ali. It is the best of Ali, it is the best of Ali.When you are turning pagesif you are in the midst of a really good writerof the very rare kindhis or her voice bec...
  • Eric Anderson
    Ali Smith is an author whose writing embodies absolute passion, invention and positivity – this is true despite her new novel “Autumn” beginning with the line “It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times.” Because she is writing about the contemporary including this year’s recent significant referendum where the UK voted to leave theEuropean Union, this statement playing upon Dickens’ famous opening accurately reflects the ...
  • Storyheart
    4.5 stars. I loved everything about this book: the characters, the imagery, the word-play, the lateral flow of ideas, the freshness, the exploration of dying,the contemporary themes, the feminism, the humour...May Winter, Spring and Summer arrive soon.
  • Paula
    Ali Smith manages to cover all of the current topics that the people in Britain are talking about, and disguise them in a story about a young woman and an old man over the years. But the topics are visible, they are everywhere and that's Smith's intention in the first place I believe. We have pre brexit conversations, political issues, media issues, racism and homophobia as well as visibility, we have anger and misunderstanding, and above all we ...
  • Doug
    At this point, a 4.5, but I suspect I will re-read this in the near future and might up it to the full 5. Although I really loved reading it and it IS a brisk and involving read, I DID have to consult several other reviews and interviews with Smith before I had a (somewhat) clear picture of exactly how it all fits together. Partially, this is due to (and here, I'd love to claim it's just being a Yank, but think it's something more than that) not ...
  • Rebecca Foster
    Smith is attempting a sort of state-of-the-nation novel in four parts – this is the first in a seasonal quartet. Her two main characters are Daniel Gluck, a centenarian dying at a care home, and his former next-door neighbor, Elisabeth Demand, in her early thirties and still figuring out her way in the world. (“Demand” from de monde = of the world, as well as being demanding.) The present world Elisabeth and her mother navigate is a true-to...
  • Kirsty
    Warning: gushing will ensue. Please proceed with caution.Well, it was no great surprise that Ali Smith's Autumn is incredible. I had originally asked my boyfriend to buy me a copy as my Christmas gift, and whilst he was happy to do so, I simply could not pass up the opportunity of reading a galley. I am far too impatient when a new Ali Smith is released; she is my favourite living author, as I'm sure everyone knows by now, and meeting her whilst ...
  • thehalcyondaysofsummer
    Opening line: 'It was the worst of times, it was the worst of times.'
  • KC
    This story is filled with love; lost and found, friendship, art, history, dying, death, and the messy and fabulous things that make up one's life. This tale flips from past to present filling the pages with the ongoing, unlikely, friendship between an elderly man, Daniel who is presently 101, and his lovely, much younger companion and friend, Elisabeth born in 1984. They meet when Elisabeth is barely a teen, having to do a writing piece on a neig...
  • Jonathan Pool
    I found Autumn a hit and miss novel. It's an uneven read.Ali Smith Smith plays games in her books and a glance at her interviews indicates that she revels in a writing style that accommodates multiple interpretations.That's fine.My 'hits'*Pauline Boty (primarily because the Internet allows the reader to read the background). Novelists bringing 'unknown' real people to life in a fictional context is a favourite literary device of mine.* Elisabet...
  • Claire Fuller
    It took me a couple of chapters to get into the swing of this, but then I absolutely loved it. Ali Smith's use of language, how she plays with it, is wonderful. The story is loose; it moves around in time and space. Elisabeth meets her neighbour - a musician - when she is young, and they talk about paintings, philosophy and life. She moves away, has her own life, and then finds him again when he is mostly sleeping in a care home. We see his dream...
  • Jaclyn Crupi
    'I'm tired of the news. I'm tired of the way it makes things spectacular that aren't, and deals so simplistically with what's truly appalling. I'm tired of the vitriol. I'm tired of the anger. I'm tired of the meanness. I'm tired of the selfishness. I'm tired of how we're doing nothing to stop it. I'm tired of how we're encouraging it. I'm tired of the violence there is and I'm tired of the violence that's on its way, that's coming, that hasn't h...
  • Dom Salmon
    Sublime. Ali Smith is now firmly established as one of my favourite writers. Keep them coming!
  • Michael Livingston
    Between How to Be Both and this, I've realised I've gotta go back through Ali Smith's catalogue - she's incredible. This is a dazzling short book that zips back and forwards though time, telling the story of an inter-generational friendship between Elisabeth Demand and Daniel Gluck. It's allusive, witty and smart - I was sad to finish it so quickly.