Ali Smith’s writing has been described as ‘poised, intelligent and imbued with a sense of hard-won optimism’ by the Financial Times, and ‘A mesmerising narrative talent’ by Neal Ascherson. She was born in Inverness in 1962 and after graduating from Aberdeen University went to Cambridge to study for her doctorate. Smith’s work has been the subject of critical acclaim from the publication of her first Saltire award-winning collection of stories, Free Love and Other Stories, in 1995. She has since been shortlisted for the Booker and the Orange prizes for both her second novel, Hotel World, and her third, The Accidental, for which she received the 2005 Whitbread novel award. Her latest novel “There But For The” shows the author’s linguistic brilliance and while its dinner-party hosts provide one in themselves (Gen and Eric – geddit?), Smith is repeatedly drawn to explorations of language games, to the moment in which what we say slips free from what we think we mean, where the generic becomes the particular, where the identity of the speaker comes under scrutiny. Also peppering her studiedly fragmented narrative is a series of knock-knock jokes, with the existentially problematic question “Who’s there?” Who indeed?.