Entertainment & Arts

Ali Smith wins Goldsmiths Prize for How to be Both

Ali Smith Image copyright Sarah Wood
Image caption Ali Smith's book How to be Both also made the Booker prize shortlist

Ali Smith has won the Goldsmiths Prize for original fiction for her novel How to be Both.

The book, which borrows from the techniques of fresco painting, won for its innovations in form and its inventive publication.

The novel was published in two versions, both with the same cover but with the main halves switched.

It focuses on the lives of a grieving teenage girl in the present day and a renaissance artist in the 1460s.

It is the second year for the prize, which was created by Goldsmiths, University of London and the New Statesman.

The £10,000 prize is open to novels written by authors from the UK or the Republic of Ireland that are "deemed genuinely novel" and which embody "the spirit of invention that characterises the genre at its best".

Also nominated this year were Rachel Cusk for Outline, The Absent Therapist by Will Eaves, J by Howard Jacobson, The Wake by Paul Kingsnorth and In The Light Of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman.

Chair of Judges Francis Spufford said they were proud to give the prize to "a book which confirms that formal innovation is completely compatible with pleasure - that it can be, in fact, a renewal of the writer's compact with the reader to delight and to astonish."

Inverness-born Smith was nominated for the inaugural Goldsmiths prize for her book Artful, but lost out to Eimear McBride's A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing.

Speaking ahead of the award ceremony Smith called the prize "about the thing closest to your heart if you work with the novel as a form, if you're interested in the form of the novel and the form of language.

"The point of this is that it's about language, about all the things a novel can do, not just some of the things a novel can do. That's what this prize is about. It's about the multi-variousness, the everything the novel can do is included in this prize."

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