At a ceremony in London on Wednesday night, Ali Smith was announced as the winner of the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction. Smith took the prize for her innovative novel "How to Be Both."
In "How to Be Both," Smith told two stories: that of a British teenager named Georgia and of the 15th century Italian painter Francesco del Cossa. While a traditional novel might intertwine the two narratives, Smith's book was published in two separate editions, in which Georgia came first, or Del Cossa did.
"That this is a gimmick goes without saying, and yet it is a gimmick that resonates," Los Angeles Times book critic David L. Ulin wrote in his review. "The idea, Smith wants us to understand, is that all stories, all pieces of art, are conditional, dependent on the observer's gaze. ... [T]o call it experimental is to miss the point. Rather it is deft and mischievous, a novel of ideas that folds back on itself like the most playful sort of arabesque."
Smith's book was also shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Folio Prize.
Previous winners of the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction, formerly known as the Orange Prize, include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Ann Patchett, Lionel Shriver, Zadie Smith and Marilynne Robinson.