MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Artful: Book summary and reviews of Artful by Ali Smith

Artful

by Ali Smith

Artful by Ali Smith X
Artful by Ali Smith
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About this book

Book Summary

The incomparable Ali Smith melds the tale and the essay into a magical hybrid form, a song of praise to the power of stories in our lives.

In February 2012, the novelist Ali Smith delivered the Weidenfeld lectures on European comparative literature at St. Anne's College, Oxford. Her lectures took the shape of this set of discursive stories. Refusing to be tied down to either fiction or the essay form, Artful is narrated by a character who is haunted - literally - by a former lover, the writer of a series of lectures about art and literature.

A hypnotic dialogue unfolds, a duet between and a meditation on art and storytelling, a book about love, grief, memory, and revitalization. Smith's heady powers as a fiction writer harmonize with her keen perceptions as a reader and critic to form a living thing that reminds us that life and art are never separate.

Artful is a book about the things art can do, the things art is full of, and the quicksilver nature of all artfulness. It glances off artists and writers from Michelangelo through Dickens, then all the way past postmodernity, exploring every form, from ancient cave painting to 1960s cinema musicals. This kaleidoscope opens up new, inventive, elastic insights - on the relation of aesthetic form to the human mind, the ways we build our minds from stories, the bridges art builds between us. Artful is a celebration of literature's worth in and to the world and a meaningful contribution to that worth in itself. There has never been a book quite like it.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Contemplative, electrifying, and transformative...The results are redemptive for everyone, testifying with singular clarity and wit to the immutable necessity for art." - Publishers Weekly

"A soulful intellectual inquiry and reflection on life and art, artfully done." - Kirkus

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Author Information

Ali Smith Author Biography

Photo: Sarah Wood

Ali Smith is the author of many works of fiction, including, most recently, Winter, Autumn, Public Library and other Stories, and How to be Both, which won the Baileys Prize for Women's Fiction, the Goldsmiths Prize, and the Costa Novel of the Year Award. Her work has four times been short-listed for the Man Booker Prize. Born in Inverness, Scotland, she lives in Cambridge, England.

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