Book Review, Contemporary, Fiction

Review: Autumn by Ali Smith [Penguin Random House]

“That’s the thing about things. They fall apart, always have, always will, it’s in their nature.”

Autumn was my first novel by well-renowned Man Booker-shortlisted Scottish author Ali Smith. It is also the first of a quartet of seasonally-titled novels.

Ali Smith’s Autumn is the story of Elisabeth Demand and a man named Daniel Gluck, who you’ll soon find out is Elisabeth’s closest friend. However, Daniel is an elderly man who is in a care home is more than double Elisabeth’s age. The book tells the story of a friendship between two people, who were unlikely to have been considered friends by others, given the stark difference in their age.  The story is set in Britain in a time after Britain had first voted to leave the European Union.

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Autumn captures the story of Elisabeth and Daniel in a manner I have not seen before. You are introduced to a friendship that is as pure and loving as it is uncommon. At times you’re shown the state of Britain at the time of their decision to withdraw from the EU, particularly the atmosphere amongst the British citizens at the time. A comparison can be drawn with the current state of Britain following the recent BREXIT vote that occurred in Europe not too long ago. It makes for interesting reading, showing a side of Britain that is not always captured in the worldwide media reports.

The story itself makes for light reading, suitable to read whenever you have a break in between hectic workloads. I also found the book to contain many chapters with deeper meanings. In one instance, staying true to the title of the book, Ali Smith writes about trees and how they change according to the seasons; where parallels can be drawn with people to the extent of how we grow and adapt to different settings.

Besides it being the first Ali Smith novel, reading Autumn was a new experience for me as her writing style is quite different to many contemporary authors. At times Autumn comes across as a set of poems, then slowly moves into the story without losing your attention.

In all honesty, I would recommend Autumn to any fan of the contemporary genre. It’s a break away from the predictable mundane fictional contemporary novels. It captures a friendship between two characters that are likely to remain with you long after finishing the novel.

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(You can find Ali Smith’s Autumn @ Loot here)

Recommended Reading:

  • Ali Smith – How To Be Both
  • Khaled Hosseini – The Kite Runner

Praise:

“Smith is dazzling in her daring. Her sheer inventive power pulls you through, gasping, to the final page” – Observer

“Compelling, audacious. Brims with palpable joy” – Daily Telegraph

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