Sarah Ditum at Literary Review:
What is to be done with hope? Ali Smith is a great artist of possibility. Think of the role chance plays in her work, from The Accidental to How to be Both’s thrillingly shuffled structure that meant you had a fifty-fifty chance of getting the contemporary narrative first or the historical one. But these are bleak times – from Smith’s perspective, anyway, which I should state here is broadly my own too.
This perspective is that of the dejected liberal for whom life in the past half-decade has been a succession of shocks punctuating the grand underlying horror of global warming, so that every time I make the mistake of thinking ‘well maybe democracy/the press/the public sphere will be OK’, I free up my brain to think about forty-degree summers instead and then I feel worse. Sometimes I wonder if the particular love I have for Smith’s post-Brexit writing has anything to do with the lofty ideals of sympathy I like to think apply to fiction or is really just the pleasure of looking in a flattering mirror.