Skip to Main Content (Press Enter)
How to be both by Ali Smith
Paperback $17.00
Oct 13, 2015 | ISBN 9780307275257

Buy from Other Retailers:

See All Formats (1) +
  • Oct 13, 2015 | ISBN 9780307275257

    Buy from Other Retailers:

  • Dec 02, 2014 | ISBN 9781101870464

    Buy from Other Retailers:

Product Details



A Best Book of the Year: NPR, Financial Times

“Playfully brilliant. . . . Delightful. . . . Incredibly touching.” —The Washington Post

“Magnificent. . . . Brilliant and cheeky.” —The Boston Globe

“[A] sly and shimmering double helix of a novel.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Joyful. . . . Moving. . . .  Encompasses wonderful mothers, unconventional love and friendship, time, mortality, gender, the consolations of art and so much else.” —NPR

“A mystery to be marveled at. . . . Smith is endlessly artful, creating a work that feels infinite in its scope and intimate at the same time.” —The Atlantic

“Ali Smith is a genius. . . . [How to be both] cements Smith’s reputation as one of the finest and most innovative of our contemporary writers. By some divine alchemy, she is both funny and moving; she combines intellectual rigor with whimsy.” —The Los Angeles Review of Books

“Captivating. . . . How to be both indeed works both ways, demonstrating not only the power of art itself but also the mastery of Smith’s prose.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“A synthesis of questions long contemplated by an extraordinarily thoughtful author, who succeeds quite well in implanting those questions into well-drawn, memorable people.” —The New York Times

“Innovative. . . . The book’s high-concept design is offset by the beauty, prowess, and range of Smith’s playfully confident, proudly unconventional prose.” —Elle

“Deft and mischievous, a novel of ideas that folds back on itself like the most playful sort of arabesque.” —Los Angeles Times

“Ali Smith’s signature themes—of the fluidity of identity and gender, appearance and perception—are here in profusion, as is her joyful command of language, from lofty rhetoric to earthy pun.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Ali Smith is a master storyteller, and How to be both is a charming and erudite novel that can quite literally make us rethink the way we read.” —The Philadelphia Inquirer

“An entirely delightful and moving story. . . . When you reach the end of this playful and wise novel, you want to turn to the beginning and read it again to piece together its mysteries and keep both halves simultaneously in mind.” —The Dallas Morning News

“A wonderfully slippery, postmodern examination of the perception, gender, loss and the lasting power of art. . . . The sort of book you could happily read a second time and uncover overlooked truths. In art as finely crafted as this, there’s always more to see, if you look.” —The Miami Herald

“Boundless. . . . Exhilarating. . . . Smith’s concerns—in subject matter and form—are profound and encompassing, and it is beautiful to watch her books defy pinning down.” —Portland Oregonian

“An inventive and intriguing look into the world of art, love, choices, and the duality of the human existence. . . . Even though Smith is writing two very different stories from two different eras, she does a masterful job of weaving connecting threads between the two.” —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Wildly inventive. . . . The narrative voice makes the double-take cohesive, as both are lyrical and fresh. . . . I absolutely adored this book.” —Laura Creste, Bustle

“Smith’s talent shines brightest in her tender depiction of the emotions that, like the underpaintings in a fresco, remain hidden but have a powerful impact.” —BookPage

Looking for More Great Reads?
21 Books You’ve Been Meaning to Read
Get the latest updates about Ali Smith
And go from well-read to best read with book recs, deals and more in your inbox every week.
And go from well-read to best read with book recs, deals and more in your inbox every week.
By clicking “SIGN UP”, I acknowledge that I have read and agree to Penguin Random House’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use and understand that Penguin Random House collects certain categories of personal information for the purposes listed in that policy, discloses, sells, or shares certain personal information and retains personal information in accordance with the policy. You can opt-out of the sale or sharing of personal information anytime.
Something awesome is on its way.
Back to Top