The novel is a fantastic convention: it does all the things that we need the novel to do. But it can also do the things that we don't expect a novel to do, while allowing us the satisfactions of narrative. It can go past convention; it can access the under-novel.
Ali Smith has been described by Kate Atkinson as ‘one of the few contemporary writers ploughing a genuinely modernist furrow.’ Her latest novel how to be both continues her almost reckless experimentation with form and content, adapting the artistic techniques of fresco painting to literature in telling a dual-time tale of art, love, injustice and redemption.
Ali came to the Bookshop to give a reading from her novel, and went on to discuss art, writing and subversion with Alex Clark of the Guardian.