Ali Smith Wins Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction for How to Be Both

Posted on June 3, 2015

How to Be Both book cover art

Ali Smith has won the prestigious 2015 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction for her novel, How to Be Both. The Bailey's prize carries a cash award of 30,000 British pounds. Ms. Smith will also receive a "Bessie" -- a bronze figurine commemorating the win.

How to Be Both is a genre-hopping novel which contrasts two stories: one is about Francesco, a minor Renaissance artist from the 1460s and one is about a modern teen who has lost her mother. Although the two characters are separated by half a century, they are connected in surprising ways. Shami Chakrabarti, the Chair of the Judges panel, had this to say about the novel: "Ancient and modern meet and speak to each other in this tender, brilliant and witty novel of grief, love, sexuality and shape-shifting identity."

The novel, which is the author's sixth, has racked up quite a list of honors. It was short-lited for the Man Booker Prize, and won the 2014 Goldsmiths Prize and the 2014 Costa Novel Award.

The Baileys Prize was created in 1996 to promote fiction written by women around the world. It has gone through a number of name changes as the sponsor has changed. It used to be known as the Orange Prize.