BookPeople is proud to partner with the Austin American-Statesman for our monthly Statesman Selects program. Each month, we get together to select one book you absolutely must not miss. December’s Statesman Selects pick is the novel How to be both by Ali Smith. Pick up a copy of the Statesman on Sunday, December 7 to read their review!
Ali Smith is a Scottish writer whose work has been widely recognized. Her second novel, Hotel World, was shortlisted for the 2001 Booker Prize and the Orange Prize. The Accidental was shortlisted for The Man Booker Prize in 2005 and How to be both is shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2014.
The novel’s structure challenges our expectations of a traditional narrative. The book is made of two halves, one half set during the Renaissance and the other half set in our modern era. Depending on which copy you pick up, you either read the Renaissance portion first or the modern section. It’s an interesting book to discuss; we’ve found that either way you read it is the way the story feels it must be told.
Consuelo, one of our managers, is a fan:
“I love it when a book’s content reflects its style, which is exactly what Ali Smith has done with her clever new novel. The story is split into two parts, and each half’s main characters explore and create their own identities – just as Smith has done with the book as a whole. It’s a beautiful look at art, love, loss, and the ties that bind us all.“
Copies of How to be both are now on our shelves. We recommend just grabbing a copy and jumping in, no peeking to see where the story starts. Let Smith work her storytelling experiment on you as a reader. Then grab an opposite copy for a friend and discuss. Or just come down here and talk to us. We dig this sort of thing.
For more about How to be both, pick up the Statesman this Sunday, where you’ll find a feature review.