BY ALI SMITH
Spring by Ali Smith is the third novel in this modern literary quartet. Although the seasonal quartet is now complete (2020) Spring works brilliantly as a stand alone novel for April, with a equally deep and thought provoking narrative that we have come to expect from the author. For those in your group who want to read more Summer is recommended, especially as it has been long-listed for the Women's Prize for Fiction this year.
With a peculiar storyline and an equally stranger cast of characters the reader is presented with an absurd world of social and political Britain in 2019. Now in 2021 this world seems less surreal.
In Spring, an aged TV director, Doubledick Richard, bemoans the loss of his colleague and one-time lover, Paddy. He is suicidal and on the verge of the unthinkable at a railway platform. Saved by two women, one a DCO (Detention Centre Officer) and the other, a young Greta Thunberg figure but in this case, an immigrant orphan, who remarkably can drift in and out of the Immigration Centre with her youthful urgency ‘to do something right to stop it’.
The author's words jibe us with her poetic language – she is angrier and more defiant but still hopeful as approaching April – ‘the month of sacrifice and the month of playfulness’.
It is described as 'the impossible tale of an impossible time'.
This is a marmite read, even for some of Ali Smith's loyal fans in the Den. But as part of this unique seasonal quartet and as a beautifully written stand alone read, the Den really enjoyed and appreciated the conversations that it provoked.
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