How to be both by Ali Smith

How to be bothAli Smith’s book ‘Girl meets Boy’ was incredibly well rated by Leeds readers. Now her new book ‘How to be both’ is a little bit unusual in that there are two versions of the novel. It’s on the Man Booker longlist (it’s 7/1 second favourite behind the Bone Clocks by David Mitchell)  and if you read it,  your version might begin with George,  an eccentric teen mourning the recent death of her free thinking mother, who had previously taken her daughter to Italy to see frescos by Francesco del Cossa.

Or it might begin with del Cossa who in a  time bending way can observe George from a distance. George has a sense of being watched and is obsessed by surveillance. It tells the same story from different perspectives. ……How to be both

‘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.’