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Works by
Ali Smith
[1962 - ]

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Profile created January 14, 2008
  • Girl Meets Boy: The Myth of Iphis (2007  UK , US) -- Winner of Diva Magazine readers’ choice Book of the Year
    Girl meets boy. It’s a story as old as time. But in Whitbread winner Ali Smith’s lyrical, funny, mash-up of Ovid’s most joyful gender-bending metamorphosis story, girl meets boy in so many more ways than one.

    Imogen and Anthea, sisters that are opposites, work together at Pure, a creative agency attempting to “bottle imagination, politics, and nature” in the form of a new Scottish bottled-water business with global aspirations. Anthea, somewhat flighty and bored with the office environment, becomes enamored of an “interventionist protest artist” nicknamed Iphisol, whose billboard-size corporate slurs around town are the bane of Pure’s existence. And when Anthea and Iphisol meet, it’s a match made in heaven.

    Girl Meets Boy is about girls and boys, girls and girls, love and transformation, the absurdity of consumerism, as well as a story of reversals and revelations that’s as sharply witty as it is lyrical. Funny, fresh, poetic, and political, Girl Meets Boy is a myth of metamorphosis for a world made in Madison Avenue’s image, and the funniest addition to The Myths series from Canongate since The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood.

  • The Reader: Ali Smith (2006 UK, US
    First of a series of anthologies of favorite writings chosen by writers.

  • The Accidental (2004; 2006, UK, US) -- Winner 2005 Whitbread Novel of the Year award
    Amber—thirty something and barefoot—shows up at the door of the Norfolk cottage that the Smarts are renting for the summer. She talks her way in. She tells nothing but lies. She stays for dinner.

    Eve Smart, the author of a best-selling series of biographical reconstructions, thinks Amber is a student with whom her husband, Michael, is sleeping. Michael, an English professor, knows only that her car broke down. Daughter Astrid, age twelve, thinks she’s her mother’s friend. Son Magnus, age seventeen, thinks she’s an angel.

    As Amber insinuates herself into the family, the questions of who she is and how she’s come to be there drop away. Instead, dazzled by her seeming exoticism, the Smarts begin to examine the accidents of their lives through the searing lens of Amber’s perceptions. When Eve finally banishes her from the cottage, Amber disappears from their sight, but not—they discover when they return home to London—from their profoundly altered lives.

    Fearlessly intelligent and written with an irresistible blend of lyricism and whimsy, The Accidental is a tour de force of literary improvisation that explores the nature of truth, the role of chance, and the transformative power of storytelling.

  • Hotel World (2001 UK, US) -- Winner Encore Award, Scottish Arts Council Book Award, and inaugural Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award

    Five people: four are living; three are strangers; two are sisters; one, a teenage hotel chambermaid, has fallen to her death in a dumbwaiter. But her spirit lingers in the world, straining to recall things she never knew. And one night all five women find themselves in the smooth plush environs of the Global Hotel, where the intersection of their very different fates make for this playful, defiant, and richly inventive novel.

    Forget room service: this is a riotous elegy, a deadpan celebration of colliding worlds, and a spirited defense of love. Blending incisive wit with surprising compassion, Hotel World is a wonderfully invigorating, life-affirming book.

  • Like (1997 UK, US)
    When we meet Amy Shone, she is a young parent struggling to raise Kate, a precocious eight-year-old. Amy is an enigma-a brilliant scholar who has forgotten how to read. She is estranged from her wealthy English parents and lives a nomadic life in Scotland, dragging Kate from one school to the next, barely scraping by. And then there is Ash, a fiery Scottish actress who cannot shake her demons-chief among them an unrequited passion for Amy that has obsessed her ever since they met as teenagers. Like is the story of two parallel lives that intersect briefly, then diverge. It is also a timeless evocation of adolescence and its agonizing anticipations, its contradictory yearnings for freedom and safety, its blind quest for mastery over pleasure and pain. Deftly constructed, passionately imagined, Like is a remarkably mature debut for a powerful young talent.

  • Death to the readers (1996)

Short Stories
  • The Whole Story and Other Stories (2003  UK, US)
    From the critically acclaimed author of Hotel World comes a collection of uniquely inventive stories that thread the labyrinth of coincidence, chance, and connections missed and made.

    What happens when you run into Death in a busy train station? (You know he's Death because when he smiles, your cell phone goes dead.) What if your lover falls in love with a tree? Should you be jealous? From the woman pursued by a band of bagpipers in full regalia to the artist who's built a seven-foot boat out of secondhand copies of The Great Gatsby, Smith's characters are offbeat, charming, sexy, and as wonderfully complex as life itself.

  • Other Stories and Other Stories (1999 UK, US)

  • Free Love and Other Stories (1995 UK, US) -- Winner Saltire First Book of the Year award


  • The Seer (2006, UK, US)
    Neil and Iona are a comfortable but complacent couple in their early thirties with well-paid professional jobs in a Scottish metropolis. They dress both themselves and their home immaculately; their lives are ordered to the point of sterility. Into their lives bursts Kirsty, Iona's anarchic sister, who manages to turn the whole evening into a startling topsy turvy treat. Only a bit to do with Hielan second sight, The Seer is a contemporary comedy of manners which asks the audience to consider just what it is they are seeing; a lively, funny, satirical rollercoaster where words like 'free' and 'spirit' encounter a whole new Scottish distillation.


  • Laws of the Bandit Queens: Words to Live by from 35 of Today's Most Revolutionary Women (2002 UK, US)
    A couple of years ago, Ali Smith had an inspiration. She decided that the time had come to make an ?intensely personal and sincere piece of art? that would honor the women whose work she respected and whose lives had had an impact on her as a woman and on the world as a whole. So, one by one, she began to contact each of these outrageous, courageous, and influential women and invite them to be part of her project. She named it Laws of the Bandit Queens after Phoolan Devi, an Indian woman who rebelled from childhood against everything her culture demanded of her.

    After two years of photography sessions and interviews in every thinkable location, from a rooftop in New York City to the women's ward of a prison, Ali's work is done. The result is a fun and inspiring collection of portraits? in words and pictures. Each of these incredible women offers a law for women and girls to live by.

    Freeda George Foreman: Pure passion is achieved by revving up the heart, soul, mind, and spirit. Pure passion is pure power. You are bigger than life; you are unlimited.

    Alice Walker: I am certain that we were meant to be creative, to make love, to sing and dance and play. Everything else was dreamed up for us.

    Jane Pratt: Another woman's success is a success for us all.

    Amy Sedaris: Laughter through the tears.

    Laws of the Bandit Queens is an amazing journey and essential reading for every woman or girl, and as Ali says in the introduction, "a celebration of original thought and the bravery it takes to live accordingly."

  • Brilliant Careers: The Virago Book of 20th Century Fiction (2000  UK, US), Ali Smith, Kasia Boddy, and Sarah Wood, ed.
    A seminal fiction collection that stretches from Gertrude Stein to Grace Paley, from Edith Wharton to Angela Carter, from Mae West to Margaret Atwood, from Zora Neale Hurston to Joyce Carol Oates. Add to this another ninety-two brilliant writers a reader can relish the thought of careering between - and all collected together in the one anthology. An international celebration of extracts that chart our time: stories of poverty and wealth, work and play, tales of changing environments - both urban and rural, in peace and wartime. A book of Virago authors with every year of the twentieth century represented by groundbreaker after literary groundbreaker.

    Brilliant Careers gathers all the energies and circumstances of twentieth-century women writers into the one book, covering ten decades from the century closest to all our hearts, swinging from one end to the other of a hundred years of history and change via the very best of twentieth century fiction.

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