Over the next month, our panel will be giving their thoughts on each of the nominated shortlist books. We’ll tell you briefly what we think of the book, the reasons we think it might win, and the reasons why it might not win. Next up is Autumn by Ali Smith. Keep reading to see what we think about whether it will be our 2017 Man Booker winner.
Autumn by Ali Smith
Published: February 2017 (US publication date)
Our panel’s full reviews here: Autumn
Find it/buy it here: Autumn
Amazon Synopsis: Autumn. Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. That’s what it felt like for Keats in 1819. How about Autumn 2016? Daniel is a century old. Elisabeth, born in 1984, has her eye on the future. The United Kingdom is in pieces, divided by a historic, once-in-a-generation summer. Love is won, love is lost. Hope is hand-in-hand with hopelessness. The seasons roll round, as ever.
Ali Smith’s new novel is a meditation on a world growing ever more bordered and exclusive, on what richness and worth are, on what harvest means. It is the first installment of her Seasonal quartet—four stand-alone books, separate yet interconnected and cyclical (as the seasons are)—and it casts an eye over our own time. Who are we? What are we made of? Shakespearean jeu d’esprit, Keatsian melancholy, the sheer bright energy of 1960s pop art: the centuries cast their eyes over our own history making.
Here’s where we’re living. Here’s time at its most contemporaneous and its most cyclic.
From the imagination of the peerless Ali Smith comes a shape-shifting series, wide-ranging in time-scale and light-footed through histories, a story about aging and time and love and stories themselves.
Jen’s Thoughts: Autumn is my personal choice to win the prize. I loved everything about this book.
Why it could win: Judges this year have picked books with a sociopolitical message and this book has been called a “post-brexit” masterpiece. It’s beautifully written and profound. This is Ali Smith’s 4th time having a book shortlisted and this could be her year.
Why it might not win: Autumn is part of a 4-part “series” so judges may want to wait for the others in the series. The book I want to win almost never wins.
Book Worm’s Thoughts: If I was on the real panel this would have been my winning choice. I loved everything about this book from start to finish.
Why it could win: It is an incredibly beautifully written book the language is poetic and the story captivating and charming.
Why it might not win: Ali Smith is already an established writer and the subject is not controversial. This is a character study rather than an action packed novel.
Nicole’s Thoughts: The writing is superb; the novel deeply thoughtful.
Why it could win: The writing, and frankly they may decide to award a woman this year. I feel as though the author plays as much a role in the decision making as the book itself.
Why it might not win: Because Exit West does, otherwise, this is the one!
Lisa’s Thoughts: I loved reading about the relationship between the old man and lost young girl, and I could really appreciate the structure of the book which alternated between real life and dreamlike sequences.
Why it could win: beautifully constructed, beautiful writing, very topical
Why it might not win: the Brexit theme seems somewhat disconnected from the other themes in the book.
Anita’s Thoughts: This book had some things I really thought were terrific – strong female protagonist, some super witty moments, and an original plot. And some things I really didn’t – one-sided political perspective, surreal dream sequences, non-linear storytelling, strained metaphors.
Why It Could Win: It’s ambitious and somehow manages to be topical without the sense that it will feel dated anytime soon. The relationship between Elizabeth and Daniel is touching. Elizabeth is a terrific, strong female character.
Why It Might Not Win: It feels fragmented and a little too undisciplined. Dream sequences are just plain annoying.
Andrew’s thoughts One of my favorite books from the long list. I loved Smith’s ability to incorporate humor, deep emotion, and political elements to what amounted to a very unconventional love story.
Why it could win: While the writing itself isn’t as unique as “Lincoln in the Bardo” and “Solar Bones,” Smith is able to stir powerful emotions through simple prose. As you should know by now, I love books that challenge me to think about things in a new way and this book certainly made me reevaluate what love can be to certain people.
Why it might not win: I can see how this book might seem like “light” reading to some judges, especially when compared to other entries on the short list. I’d argue that enjoyment and readability should factor into the decision, and it’s hard to argue against those criteria with this book.
We want to hear from you. Have you read it? What did you think? Do you think it will win the 2016 Man Booker?
If I was a judge, this would be my choice. The quirky writing style, the characters, the art, and the issues she touches on with subtlety- I just love it.
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I haven’t read it so can’t comment but I love the mix of aesthetic and pragmatic considerations in your forecasts!
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Just requested this from the library…
Looking forward to hearing what you think since I’m the only one who didn’t really love this one.
It looks like there is a long wait for this book
It’s a wonderful book. Multilayered. Beautiful language. But yes, the main theme of Brexit is a little fragmented from the rest of the book.
I had thought that it wouldn’t win the Booker and that George Saunders would, but then it is always easy to pretend you knew all along when the award has been declared 😀