Nothing accidental about Ali

Smith’s The Accidental beat out Rushdie and Nick Hornby for the Whitbread, which is now looking for a new name and a new sponsor.

From The Scotsman:
A former English lecturer at Strathclyde University, Smith, 43, gave up her job and began to focus on her writing after falling ill with chronic fatigue syndrome. After moving to Cambridge, where she still lives, Smith wrote her first book, a collection of short stories, Free Love in 1995.
Her greatest rival to winning the overall award is probably Hilary Spurling’s Matisse the Master, described as a “masterpiece” by the judges, which won the Biography Award. The second part of a book which has taken Spurling 15 years to complete, it documents the artist’s lifetime of desperation and self-doubt and was the result of unprecedented and unrestricted access to voluminous family correspondence.

The Independent ran an interview with Smith a few months back when she was shortlisted for the Booker:
“It started, she says, not with an image or an idea, but with a dream: “This is going to sound fey, but I woke up at 5am with a prose voice and wrote it down. Usually, if you do that, it will be shit. But the next day I looked at it and thought, it’s alright. Then,” she adds, “there was an image, which is of a house which is looked at from the outside – which is the perfect way to explore structure as well.”
The house is, in fact, a holiday cottage in Norfolk. It has been rented for the summer by a London media couple in search of rural peace and charm. He is Michael Smart, an academic who regards the seduction of his students as a standard perk of the job. She is his wife, Eve, a writer who has made a name, and fortune, from appropriating the hidden histories of ordinary men and women. Her daughter, Astrid, prefers to see life through the lens of her digital camera, while her maths-whizz son, Magnus, broods in his bedroom, silent and unwashed.
A knock on the door from a beautiful stranger changes everything – at first for the better and later, dramatically, for the worse. Gradually, excruciatingly, we watch the family’s lives unravel.”

Several of her short stories can be read online: Astute Fiery Luxurious, The Child, True short story and The History of History.





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