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Smith’s Final Season

Guest Post by James Penha

Summer is the fourth and final novel in Ali Smith’s seasonal quartet. I loved Autumn, Winter, and Spring. Summer is my favorite. It has what one expects from Smith: wonderfully idiosyncratic characters, interlocking story lines, humor, social and political themes. But the special shock of Summer is its timeliness—not just Summer; Summer 2020! Its present tense is our pandemic present. Ali Smith had planned for this novel from the time (2016) she published Autumn if not long before. How did Smith manage to integrate COVID-19 and lockdown so seamlessly into a novel already envisioned? I call it a miracle . . . and a great book.

Summer by Ali Smith. Pantheon, August 2020.

A native New Yorker, James Penha has lived for the past quarter-century in Indonesia. He edits The New Verse News, an online journal of current-events poetry.

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