Ali Smith: Spring (2019, Pantheon)
“What unites Katherine Mansfield, Charlie Chaplin, Shakespeare, Rilke, Beethoven, Brexit, the present, the past, the north, the south, the east, the west, a man mourning lost times, a woman trapped in modern times?”
In Spring, the latest novel from her ‘Seasonal Quartet,’ Ali Smith once again manages to connect seemingly disparate things to create a coherent whole. In the tradition of the ‘condition-of-England novels,’ it offers a topical and reflective view on contemporary British society, but it also functions as a counter-narrative to divisive and nostalgic tendencies in Brexit-Britain.
Rather than illustrating the political issues concerning Brexit, Spring focuses on individual characters as well as the general state of the nation. Follow the gripping story of the chance encounter between ageing film director Richard, Brit, a security officer in an Immigration Removal Centre, and Florence, a young refugee. Spring features a new set of characters, so don’t worry if you haven’t read Autumn or Winter! If you have, enjoy some subtle references and connections to old friends. Smith’s fresh, witty and unique writing style makes the novel a perfect read for your summer holiday.
– recommended by Dennis Henneböhl