I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

In Praise Of Ali Smith


Alex Clark, writing in The Guardian’s books supplement (June 6th) celebrates Ali Smith as “an endless booster of other writers’ work (dead or alive), because she believes in people and in words. She believes in a literary ecology that needs care to flourish and without which we will be the poorer.”

The immediate occasion for this tribute is a recent literary event in Smith’s adopted home of Cambridge, where she selected the first novels that had most impressed her and introduced their authors to the public, congratulating them “on doing something hard and daunting, and beckon[ing] the audience in to share a world of stimulation and pleasure”. The chosen authors were Sarah Bannan, for Weightless, Claire Lowdon, for Left of the Bang, and Sara Taylor, for The Shore.

Ali Smith’s How to be both was recently reviewed in the Dublin Review of Books by Lia Mills, who wrote: “On one level this novel is about painting, but it’s equally about writing and/or reading. I could tear up this entire review and start again to say: this novel is about art and language, the making of art and the understanding of art, inseparable from the making and understanding of life and the world it’s lived in, with language a living current that flows between them. It’s about attention and engagement and how to stay awake in the world and in life, which will be over sooner than we think.”