Photo by Antonio Olmos

2015: Ali Smith

Described as an heir to Virgina Woolf, this award winning Scottish author was guest director for the 49th Festival

The 49th Brighton Festival Guest Director was award-winning Scottish author Ali Smith. 

Described as an ‘heir to Virginia Woolf’, Ali Smith has established herself as a pioneer of form; fearlessly pushing the boundaries of the novel with a deftness and accessibility that has earned her a reputation for being both vitally inventive and scrupulously playful.

Named winner of both the Costa Novel award and Goldsmiths Prize for boldly original fiction, Smith's novel - How to Be Both - is her most experimental and idiosyncratic yet. Borrowing from painting's fresco technique to make an original literary double-take, it is a fast-moving genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions. Lauded by critics, How to Be Both has also earned her nominations for the Man Booker Prize and the Folio Prize.

Smith’s numerous other acclaimed novels, short story and essay collections include The Accidental (shortlisted for the Man Booker and the Orange Prize), Hotel World (shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Orange Prize) and There But For The.

On her role and her thinking behind Brighton Festival 2015 Ali Smith says:

'Imagine the world seen from the eye of a bird.  Migrating birds are born naturally equipped with maps that even new-born birds know how to follow, maps of landscapes with no borders.  Birds with nothing but the urge to flock together, get there, be here now.  Imagine the borders between the artforms.  Imagine them opened, crossed, melted, made invisible, so that poetry meets music meets theatre meets dance meets thought meets sculptural meets rhythm meets fiction meets the natural world. I'm a fan of the unexpected connection, the crossing places between the art forms, the place where they meet, open to each other and fuse into something more.

The word festival comes from the place where the word for feast crosses into the word for joyful, happy, honouring, celebratory. The word Brighton, in the month of May: that means festival'

A few facts about Ali Smith

Ali Smith was born in Inverness in 1962 and lives in Cambridge.

Her first book, Free Love, won the Saltire First Book Award.

Hotel World (2001) was shortlisted for both the Orange Prize and the Man Booker Prize in 2001 and won the Encore Award, the East England Arts Award of the Year and the Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year Award in 2002.

The Accidental (2005) won the 2005 Whitbread Novel Award and was shortlisted for the Orange Prize and the Man Booker Prize

How to be Both (2014) was named winner of The Goldsmiths Prize and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. It has also been nominated for the Costa Book Award and longlisted for the Folio Prize

Ali Smith’s numerous other acclaimed novels, short story and essay collections including Like (1997); Other Stories and Other Stories (1999); The Whole Story and Other Stories (2003); Girl Meets Boy (2007); The First Person and Other Stories (2008); There But For The (2011); Artful (2012)

Ali Smith, was made a CBE in the 2014 New Year's Honours and has just received the Costa Novel Award for How To Be Both.