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Public Library and other Stories

Ali Smith

Average Review Rating Average Rating 9/10 (1 Review)
Book Details

Publisher : Penguin

Published : 2016

Copyright : Ali Smith 2015

ISBN-10 : PB 0-241-97459-3
ISBN-13 : PB 978-0-241-97459-9

Publisher's Write-Up

A richly inventive new collection of stories from Ali Smith, author of How to be both, winner of the Baileys Women's Prize and the Costa Novel Award and shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Why are books so very powerful?

What do the books we've read over our lives - our own personal libraries - make of us?

What does the unravelling of our tradition of public libraries, so hard-won but now in jeopardy, say about us?

The stories in Ali Smith's new collection are about what we do with books and what they do with us: how they travel with us; how they shock us, change us, challenge us, banish time while making us older, wiser and ageless all at once; how they remind us to pay attention to the world we make. Public libraries are places of joy, freedom, community and discovery - and right now they are under threat from funding cuts and widespread closures across the UK and further afield. With this brilliantly inventive collection, Ali Smith joins the campaign to save our public libraries and celebrate their true place in our culture and history.

'Smith is dazzling in her daring. Sheer inventive power.' /font>


'Smith's world is incredibly generous - it's a place where all sorts of stories and human connections are possible.'

Daily Express

'Ali Smith is a one-off. Her imagination and originality make her one of the most exciting novelists of her generation.'

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Reader Reviews

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Review by Ben Macnair (310116) Rating (9/10)

Review by Ben Macnair
Rating 9/10
Following up the enormous critical and commercial success of the award winning novel How to be both cannot have been an easy task for Ali Smith. The prolific short story writer, though has returned to the fertile ground of her imagination for Public Library and Other Stories.

Anyone who is only familiar with Smith from How to be both will be intrigued by the quality and breadth of the stories found within the pages of this collection. If you knew her work before, the same quality of writing exists within this work, which also asks for contributions from other people, about the importance of libraries within their lives, and these little vignettes area fine reminder of the role that libraries play in the lives of people who choose to use them.

So, we have short stories about love, about chance, and of life, all of which are linked to libraries, or literature in its widest sense. Library looks at a real life incident, with an upmarket gentlemen’s club calling itself The Library whilst Last looks at the plight of a wheel-chair bound woman waiting to be let out of a train carriage. The Human Claim interleaves D. H. Lawrence’s ashes with a relationship that is going through a difficult time, After Life follows the time and misfortunes of a man who is reported dead by his local newspaper. We also have stories about poets, a woman who grows foliage and becomes a tree, and the closing story, And So On, is about early death, and the ripples that the absence leaves.

This is a fine collection, a book that is full of Smith’s accomplished writing, and humanity, and it raises important questions about the value of Libraries, and that in these times of austerity, the sad fact that many of these institutions, that have provided companionship, escape, and books that open new worlds to all of us, are being closed down.
Ben Macnair (31st January 2016)

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