Ali Smith: Long Way Down

This month, the brilliant Ali Smith chooses a book for us. Her books include How to be Both, Artful, and most recently Autumn, Winter and Spring in the Seasonal quartet. Her 2014 novel How to be Both won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Goldsmiths Prize and the Costa Novel of the Year Award. We’re delighted to have this choice from Ali, a generous supporter, and her latest novel Spring happens to be a Give a Book favourite.

Long Way Down is a wonderful book. It’s marked as written for the young adult market but it’s one of those versatile, beautifully made books that will strike its chord no matter how old or young its reader is. Its story lasts only a few seconds, the time it takes for Will, its main character, to travel down from his apartment in the elevator of the building he lives in, planning to avenge the death of his brother Shawn. In that amazingly quick space of time, in the unbelievably crammed elevator space, as Will faces up to what looks like an unavoidable act, Jason Reynolds conjures space and time to think, and spins a free verse prose that moves like rap, like poetry, and at a pace that’s the speed of light thrown on the dark. A brilliant, shining, uncompromising book about what moves us to act, what the consequences of our actions are, and how to unfix destiny, it’s a work that gives back time, thought, wisdom and has an understanding both social and metaphysical. It’s a street-smart novel for right now, it’s an ancient tale, and it’s the kind of book that will always change lives.

Thank you, Ali Smith!

Browse our previous Book of the Month choices here.