There and Back Again

2 minute read
Radhika Jones

A man at a London dinner party leaves the table, goes upstairs and locks himself indefinitely in his hosts’ spare room. That’s the premise of Ali Smith’s latest novel, There but for The, a beguiling ode to human connection shot through with existential wonder and virtuosic wordplay. If you fell for Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad, you’ll appreciate Smith’s formal twists and turns–and there’s more where There came from.

Hotel World

A ghost story for the contemporary age, Smith’s 2001 novel tells of a maid trapped in limbo in the hotel where she once served–the perfect setting for transient tales of lives lived on the margins.

The Accidental

A stranger shows up in the middle of a family’s holiday. She might be an angel, an illusion or a provocateur–but whichever it is, she knows just where the family bruises are and how hard to press them.

The Book Lover

For this anthology, Smith collected her favorite bits of writing–a line from Jane Austen, a passage by Angela Carter, a poem by Stevie Smith–into a lively guided tour of artistic influence. What better way into a writer’s head than through her bookshelves?

The First Person and Other Stories

The short story, province of the most adventurous writers, is perfect terrain for the witty, clever Smith, as evidenced by the first line of “The Third Person”: “All short stories long.” Why, yes. Yes they do.

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at