The Spring of Hope, the Winter of Despair
Ali Smith and Maria Horvei
How do you write with a finger on the pulse of time, without knowing where you’re headed? That is what Ali Smith wanted to find out in an outrageous experiment – after convincing her editor: She wanted to write four books, about the four seasons, in four years.
The result: The four critically acclaimed and award winning novels Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer, in which our own time seeps into the novels’ universe. Fate would have it that the years during which Smith wrote, were far from dull: In Britain, Brexit divides people, in Europe, the refugee crisis divides people, Donald Trump is elected president of the United States, and the world is hit by a global pandemic.
The novel quartet is no mere reportage, however. The books are all filled with Smith’s trademark playfulness in both language and plot, and an almost defiant optimism. The stories and characters of the four novels are intertwined, Smith uses Shakespeare and Dickens, and writes about forgotten artists such as Pauline Boty, Barbara Hepworth and Lorenza Mazzetti.
Scottish Ali Smith is the author of more than 25 novels, short story collections and plays. She is the winner of numerous awards, including Goldsmiths Prize, Costa Book Awards and the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction, and she has been short listed for the prestigious Booker Prize four times.
Maria Horvei is a literature and art critic. She will meet Smith for a conversation about literature, art, hope and the times we live in.