An eye for life


Filed under: FictionNon-fiction

Ali Smith and Marion Coutts discuss writing grief and loss. Chaired by Maggie Fergusson.

Ali Smith’s novel How to be Both, in which the lives of a 15th-century fresco painter and a 21st-century Cambridge schoolgirl mysteriously intertwine, was shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize and the Costa Novel Award, and won the £10,000 Goldsmiths Prize. ‘How to be Both brims with palpable joy,’ one reviewer wrote, ‘not only at language, literature and art’s transformative power, but at the messy business of being human.’ Marion Coutts’s fierce, shocking and beautiful memoir, The Iceberg, tracing the two years between her husband Tom Lubbock’s diagnosis with and death from a brain tumour, was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and the Costa Biography Award. Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Diana Athill described it as a book that ‘ought to be read by anyone who ever pauses to consider our mortality.’ Meeting one another for the first time, Ali Smith and Marion Coutts talk about how to look at life slantwise, to weigh words, to come to terms with time, and to reconcile grief and grace.

Recorded on: February 24, 2015
Recorded at: London School of Economics


Related RSL Fellows

Maggie Fergusson 2010
Ali Smith 2007