Bri­tish au­thor Ali Smith wins fic­tion award

The China Post - - LIFE -

Scot­tish-born au­thor Ali Smith won the Bai­leys Women’s Prize for Fic­tion on Wed­nes­day, netting a long-sought victory af­ter miss­ing out on a string of pres­ti­gious prizes this year.

Smith’s novel ex­plores the bound­aries of gen­der, weav­ing to­gether the tales of a mod­ern teenage girl strug­gling with her sex­u­al­ity and a fe­male artist in Re­nais­sance Italy who dresses as a man to be able to work.

Smith, born in 1962, seemed not to be­lieve her ears as she was an­nounced the win­ner af­ter be­ing short­listed for the Man Booker, the Fo­lio Prize and the Costa Book Award in the past year with­out win­ning. “Are you sure?” Smith said as she ac­cepted the award at a Lon­don cer­e­mony.

“I can’t be­lieve I’m up here. I re­ally am shocked, speech­less. Thank you to Sarah, my dar­ling my part­ner who has seen me through th­ese books. This is un­be­liev­able, it’s not even my birth­day.”

The award comes with a cash prize of 30,000 pounds (US$46,000).

Pre­vi­ously known as the Or­ange prize, the award is open to all women writ­ing in English and has pre­vi­ously gone to Zadie Smith for “On Beauty” and Lionel Shriver for “We Need To Talk About Kevin.”

The chair of the judg­ing panel Shami Chakrabarti praised Smith’s novel for its hu­mour and com­pas­sion.

“An­cient and mod­ern meet and speak to each other in this ten­der, bril­liant and witty novel of grief, love, sex­u­al­ity and shape-shift­ing iden­tity,” Chakrabarti said.

The novel comes in two edi­tions, one be­gin­ning with the story of the 15th cen­tury artist, and the other start­ing with the nar­ra­tive of the teenage girl, who is griev­ing the death of her mother.

The Bai­leys award an­nounce­ment de­scribed the work as a play­ful and “sin­gu­lar yarn” where “all life’s givens get a sec­ond chance.”

Also nom­i­nated for the award were English au­thor La­line Paull, Canadian au­thor Rachel Cusk, Pak­istani au­thor Kamila Sham­sie and Welsh au­thor Sarah Wa­ters.

Smith’s other works in­clude “Ho­tel World” and “The Ac­ci­den­tal.”

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