Summer by Ali Smith

by
October 2020, no. 425
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Felicity Plunkett reviews 'Summer' by Ali Smith

Summer

by Ali Smith

Hamish Hamilton, $29.99, pb, 384 pp

Buy this book

Summer by Ali Smith

by
October 2020, no. 425

I could begin with a lark stitched into a letter. It’s 2020 and ‘all manner of virulent things’ are simmering. Sixteen-year-old Sacha writes to Hero, a detained refugee. She wants to send ‘an open horizon’. Unsure what to say to someone suffering injustice, she writes about swifts: how far they travel, how they feed – and even sleep – on the wing. The way their presence announces the beginning and ending of summer ‘makes swifts a bit like a flying message in a bottle’. Maybe they even make summer happen.

Sacha writes about Emily Dickinson’s poem that begins ‘Split the Lark – and you’ll find the Music’. It says, Sacha thinks, ‘what would happen if you split a lark open? I have a vision that if you were to open a swift, metaphorically of course, the rolled-up message they carry inside them is the unfurled word. SUMMER.’

Or I could begin with Hannah in Nazi Germany, where the simmering virulence is fascism, as Ali Smith loops a thread between ‘unprecedented’ times and what precedes them. Hannah is one of the dazzling-minded, blazing characters who recur in Smith’s ouevre. She is central to this work of emotional courage and encouragement.

Felicity Plunkett reviews 'Summer' by Ali Smith

Summer

by Ali Smith

Hamish Hamilton, $29.99, pb, 384 pp

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