Ali Smith's latest book is Artful.
From her 2013 Q & A with Michelle Kung for the Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy blog:
When and why did you decide to use “Oliver Twist” and the Artful Dodger as a narrative thread through your essays? Was the Dickens the inspiration for the texts, or did it come more into place as you started writing?Learn about a place that inspires Smith, and about the "deceased author [Smith would] most like to watch crossing a room, just to see how she moves."
It’s the word artful; it’s such a great word, with its dark and its light side, its art and its cunning, the craft and the crafty of it – I’ve been preoccupied with the word artful and the twin notions of cornucopia and pickpocket it suggests for quite some time. When the offer to give the lectures came, I remembered that Dickens had been writing and publishing “Oliver Twist” (one of his earliest works) literally as he went along, on the hoof, so I thought I’d read it concurrently with the writing of the lectures and see if anything artful would happen.
Your writing is full of allusions to both classical and pop culture texts. What books/novels/poetry do you consider essential reading for the average literate adult nowadays?
Oh dear god what a question, my mind just turned into a Noah’s Ark of baying and screeching and singing and mooing and roaring and squeaking creatures, all roaring and squeaking me! me! no, me! And is that Noah, at the helm? No, it’s Shakespeare, or Chaucer, or Cervantes, or that great (probably a woman) writer Anon, and all round them, as if simply to make the ark rock so joyfully in the water, is coming the great flood everything ever written. And you know, I don’t think there’s such a thing as average literate adult. Every single person who...[read on]