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Colley reviews Smith

Saturday Review: “Lee Smith Goes To Key West” a review by Sharon E. Colley of Silver Alert (2023) by Lee Smith.

We are so excited to start sharing book reviews forthcoming in our fall issue (due out in October)!

Immediately, Colley places heavy emphasis on the comparative uniqueness of Smith’s novel, “unlike Smith’s most famous books, such as Fair and Tender Ladies (1988) and Oral History (1983), Silver Alert is not set in the Appalachian Mountains or small towns of Virginia or North Carolina,” rather it takes place in “sunny Florida, specifically quirky Key West.” And, “instead of foregrounding a spunky female protagonist, as Smith did in Saving Grace (1995) and Guests on Earth (2013), Silver Alert begins with a male point of view.”

Colley continues, comparing the new novel to others from Smith’s bibliography, highlighting that though the book may seem completely divergent from Smith’s usual style, that is not the case for one with a trained eye; “Despite the frequent association of her fiction with the Appalachian Mountains, Smith’s texts have included town and non-mountainous settings throughout her career,” and “Herb Atlas is not the first male protagonist in Smith’s work” — with both Oral History and The Devil’s Dream, dedicating a significant amount of their time to male characters.

The review leaves us excited for the future of Smith’s writing career, a sentiment that Colley shares as well: “Smith’s publishing career has passed the half century mark, and she continues to create vibrant fiction. Her texts include appealing voices, skillful manipulations of point of view, and a powerful combination of pathos and hope. Silver Alert is both in harmony with her previous fiction as well as a new direction for it.”

Read the review before it is published this fall and buy the book on or from your local independent bookstore.