A collage of Ali Smith book covers on a bright yellow background.

Image:Alicia Fernandes / Penguin

With a 25-year-long writing career that has resulted in novels, short story collections, works of non-fiction and plays (and numerous awards to show for it), Ali Smith has an impressive literary legacy. Each book offers the reader – or audiobook listener – a fresh perspective on the world and Smith's particular gift for writing makes each of them unique in their own way.

Unsurprisingly, all of this of adds up to a challenging decision on which book to pick up first. If you're looking for some assistance, our reading guide should give you some inspiration on which book to pick up first.

How to be both (2014)

How to be both, winner of the 2015 Women’s Prize for Fiction, is a fan-favourite among Ali Smith readers. Borrowing from the fresco technique used by painters to make an innovative literary double-take, it's a fast-moving, genre-bending conversation between forms, times, truths and fictions.

There's a renaissance artist of the 1460s. There's the child of a child of the 1960s. Two tales of love and injustice twist into a singular yarn where time gets timeless, structure gets playful, knowing gets mysterious, fiction gets real – and all life's givens get given a second chance.

There but for the (2011)

When a man at a dinner party leaves the room and locks himself in one of the bedrooms, the consequences of his actions ripple outwards, touching the owners, the guests, the neighbours and the whole country. Ali Smith draws us into a beautiful, strange place where everyone is so much more than they first appear...

A new audiobook of this playful satire is read by Juliet Stevenson, who brings the lyrical writing and characters to life with vivid playfulness.

 

Other stories and other stories (1999)

One of Ali Smith's early works, each story in this collection is individually lucid and luminous but they subtly resonate as a whoe too.

These tales examine the distances and connections between ourselves and others, expertly inching us closer to the bone. As with all of Smith's writing, the storytelling is inventive but feels necessary, moving and joyous too.

Like (1997)

Ali Smith evokes the twin spirits of time and place in her extraordinarily powerful first novel. It teases out the connections between people, the attractions and the ghostly repercussions.

By turns funny, haunting and disconcertingly moving, Like soars across hidden borders between cultures, countries, families, friends and lovers. Subtle and complex, it confounds expectations about fiction and truths.

This audiobook is narrated by Lois Chimimba, whose nuanced performance fits the tone of the novel beautifully.

The Accidental (2005)

The Accidental, shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2005, pans in on the Norfolk holiday home of the Smart family during one hot summer. There a beguiling stranger appears at the door bearing all sorts of unexpected gifts, trampling over family boundaries and sending each of the Smarts scurrying from the dark into the light.

A novel about the ways that seemingly chance encounters irrevocably transform our understanding of ourselves, The Accidental explores the nature of truth, the role of fate and the power of storytelling.

Free Love (1995)

A teenage girl finds unexpected sexual freedom on a trip to Amsterdam. A woman trapped at a dinner party comes up against an ugly obsession. The stories in Free Love are about desire, memory, sexual ambiguity and the imagination.

In the harsh light of dislocation, the people in them still find connections, words blowing in the street, love in unexpected places.

In this audiobook edition, Juliet Stevenson returns to narrate and with a lightness of touch coaxes these exquisite stories off the page.

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