How to be both by Ali Smith

Ali Smith ( was born in Inverness in 1962 and lives in Cambridge. She is the author of Like (1997), Hotel World (2001), Other Stories and Other Stories (1999), The Whole Story and Other Stories (2003), The Accidental (2005), Girl Meets Boy (2007) and The First Person and Other Stories (2008), There but for the (2011). This latest won the Goldsmiths Award 2014, was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize and won the Saltire Society Literary Book of the Year Award 2014.

How to be both is a magic realism novel in two sections published to be read in either order. It brings together the effervescent narratives of an Italian Renaissance fresco painter of the 1460’s and a modern teenager of the 1960’s. These two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time seems to melt away. The book explores love, art and human possibility with an extraordinary freshness. Not every reader likes Ali Smith but if you do cotton on, you’ll really love her work. Give her a try.

384 pages in Hamish Hamilton

First published 28 Aug 2014

ISBN 978-0241145210

Ali Smith

Scroll to Top