Ali Smith on the 50th anniversary of The Bell Jar; Alex Preston on innovation in the novel

Listen in pop-out player

Mariella Frostrup talks to Ali Smith about Sylvia Plath's ground breaking novel, "The Bell Jar" fifty years after it was first published and shortly before the author's own suicide after she separated from the poet Ted Hughes in circumstances which have continued to cause controversy to this day. In this interview Ali Smith, award winning novelist of The Accidental and Hotel World, celebrates the novel for the witty, beautiful crafted and political literary classic it is, exploring issues at the heart of what it means to be a young woman in mid 20th century America in a uniquely original and highly influential way.And with the announcement of yet another literary prize - the Goldsmiths Prize sponsored by Goldsmiths University and the New Statesman is worth £10,000 and will be awarded to writers of boldly, original fiction - writer and broadcaster Alex Preston and author, poet and Professor of Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths, Blake Morrison, consider what being experimental and innovative means for 21st century novelists. Is the literary novel keeping pace with the explosion of technology in the first decade of the new millennium, the creative potential of the video game and the success of new genres such as Steampunk and Nordic noir?And what better way to counter the challenge posed to literature by the rise of computer games than to set a novel inside one? In his 17th novel Bedlam Scottish crime writer Christopher Brookmyre turns to science fiction for inspiration. The book's protagonist Ross Baker finds himself trapped inside a first person shooter called Starfire, which he himself played as a teenager whilst escaping from his parents' bitter divorce. How did the author's own gaming inspire the novel and what can exploring different forms of consciousness - digital and organic - tell us about what it means to be human?Producer: Hilary Dunn.

Release date:

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Thu 14 Feb 2013 15:30

Read the Opening Chapter of The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Read the Opening Chapter of Bedlam by Christopher Brookmyre

Get ahead with Mariella’s next book Harvest by Jim Crace


The Bell Jar


The Bell Jar (50th Anniversary Edition) - Sylvia Plath

Publisher: Faber and Faber


Bold and original fiction


Reality Hunger: A Manifesto - David Shields

Publisher: Penguin


Red Plenty - Francis Spufford

Publisher: Faber and Faber


HHhH - Laurent Binet (author) Sam Taylor (Translator)

Publisher: Vintage


2666 -  Roberto Bolano

Publisher: Picador


Christopher Brookmyre


Bedlam - Christopher Brookmyre

Publisher: Orbit


All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses an Eye - Christopher Brookmyre

Publisher: Abacus

This Week's Book List


Read along with us - a list of books discussed in each programme

Words Around the World


From the beaches of Tel Aviv to the foothills of Colombia, enjoy our literary postcards

Close Reads

Close reading.jpg

A collection of insights into what make great texts work

Listen Anywhere


Download this week's edition now or subscribe to receive future programmes automatically

More from Books at the BBC

Books at BBC logo

Author interviews, readings, documentaries and highlights from the BBC's books content