Shami Chakrabarti, Chair of Judges, said of Smith’s winning novel: “Ancient and modern meet and speak to each other in this tender, brilliant and witty novel of grief, love, sexuality and shape-shifting identity.”
How to Be Both is a novel all about art’s versatility. Borrowing from painting’s fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it’s a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions. There’s a renaissance artist of the 1460s. There’s the child of a child of the 1960s. Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structural gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fictional gets real – and all life’s givens get given a second chance.
Ali Smith was born in Inverness in August 1962 and lives in Cambridge. She won the Saltire First Book Award and a Scottish Arts Council Award in 1995 for her first collection of stories, Free Love and has since published three further collections including Other Stories and Other Stories and The First Person and Other Stories.
She is the author of several novels including Hotel World, which was shortlisted for the Booker and the Orange Prize, and The Accidental which won the Whitbread Novel Award. Her non-fiction includes Artful, which won the 2013 Bristol Festival of Ideas/Best Book of Ideas.
How to be both was shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize, won the 2014 Goldsmiths Prize and Saltire Literary Book of the Year 2014 award. In 2007 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and was made a CBE for Services to Literature in the 2014 New Year’s Honours List.