The University of Brighton are taking part in a nationwide campaign to share the love of contemporary fiction, regardless of your chosen field of study.
In 2013 we worked with the Booker Prize Foundation to introduce Ali Smith and her novel The Accidental to the university.
The book follows a middle-class English family who are visited by an uninvited guest, Amber, while they are on holiday in a small village in Norfolk. Amber's arrival has a profound effect on all the family members and consequences of her appearance continue even after the family has returned home to London.
Here is what, Jessica Godden, the winner of our competition to attend the dinner for Ali Smith, has to say about the event:
The University of Brighton, in partnership with the Booker Prize Foundation, hosted a free talk and book-signing event with the author of The Accidental, Ali Smith. As well as the Ali Smith event being a brilliant opportunity for students to hear parts of the novel, read aloud by Ali Smith herself, the event also gave students a first-hand insight into, and understanding of, the novel by participating in discussions with Ali.
It was interesting to find out more about the historical context of the novel along with the meaning behind the title The Accidental. She explained that The Accidental simply means “to come about” but is also a musical notion (a note outside the signature). As students, the opportunity to ask Ali Smith various questions about various aspects of her writing, including style and narrative was extremely useful. I enjoyed listening to her explain why she chose certain settings, scenery and characters, and also how long the writing process itself takes; she described it as “writing feels like you’re walking in a dark unknown room”. I was particularly interested in hearing where Ali Smith gets her inspiration from and the different representations within the novel.
I was also lucky enough to win a place at the dinner with Ali Smith after the event, which was a great experience. She was friendly and laid-back, and although there was little talk about The Accidental overall, I still found it interesting to get to know Ali Smith and her opinions. I am thankful for this opportunity.