” Is there never escaping the junkshop of the self?”
Shortlisted for 2017 Man Booker Prize, Autumn, is the first novel in the seasonal quartet by Ali Smith.
The story is based in the post Brexit U.K. and it reflects upon the politics, art, history and music of the country. The story centers around Elisabeth Demand, an art history professor in her early thirties, who regularly visits her sick neighbour Daniel, who is 101 years old. Elisabeth forms a unique friendship with Daniel during her childhood and he inculcates in her, an interest in art history through their talks on unusual and thought provoking subjects.
The reader gets to read about the past and present of Elisabeth’s life along with getting glimpses of Daniel’s hallucinations while he is sick. The book is full of poetic language and plenty of layers or ‘reading between the lines’ scenarios. Ali Smith expresses her disapproval of the state of affairs post Brexit through her characters as well as through general observations. There is subtle humour in the book about things that are simple yet they miss our notice which makes this book amusing at times.
” I am tired of the news. I am tired of the way it makes things spectacular that aren’t and deals so simplistically with what is truly appalling”
My praise for this book predominantly centers around the beauty of the writing, the effortless way with which the prose flows which left me awestruck and how I loved reading about the extraordinary friendship between Elisabeth and Daniel. Elisabeth spells her name with an ‘s’ instead of the usual ‘z’ and just like the spelling of her name, her personality is singular too. She absorbs things happening around her, makes an assessment and cares about things that no one pays attention to. Her character won me over.
However, as I mentioned that there were a lot of layers in the story so there were things that just didn’t get through to me. Despite the lush writing, I didn’t quite enjoy the story so much. There was no particular order in the way the things moved forward so I sometimes lost the thread of the story which was disconcerting for me as a reader.
A book replete with ponderings and reflections but little storyline and the writing style that impresses. That is Autumn for me.
My Ratings : 3/5 stars
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