(British, 1962– )
Although Inverness-born Smith has been publishing fiction since the mid-1990s, she came most widely to public notice with the appearance in 2001 of Hotel World, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. This is a beautifully written collection of fragments, thrillingly vibrant and often terribly moving. A 19-year-old girl has died after climbing into a dumb waiter for a dare: she grieves for her lost life and tries to recall it; then we hear from a homeless woman who begs outside the hotel where she died; from a silly lifestyle journalist; and finally, from the dead girl's younger sister. This is an imaginative exploration of love and loss and death which renders these age-old subjects poignantly new, and makes the reader glad to be alive. Smith's first novel, Like (1997), threads together the lives of two unconventional young women—Amy and Ash—which converge just briefly and then are thrown apart again. With its poetic evocation of passion and the bonds that unite friends and families, it is also well worth a read. There are two collections of shorter fiction: Free Love, and Other Stories (1995) and Other Stories, and Other Stories (1999).
Lesley Glaister, Michèle Roberts DHa/JR