The twin tales of an Italian Renaissance painter and a present-day British girl reeling from a family tragedy comprise the two halves of “How to Be Both.” Some versions of the book tell the painter’s story first, while others begin with the girl’s. Both versions feature the same cover, and it doesn’t matter which half is read first.
“Ancient and modern meet and speak to each other in this tender, brilliant and witty novel of grief, love, sexuality and shape-shifting identity,” commented Shami Chakrabarti, the Baileys’ chair of judges this year.
Following the prize, Penguin Random House announced that it would publish 40,000 more copies of the novel in paperback.
Smith previously wrote the novels “The Accidental”,” Hotel World” and “There But for The.”
Established in 1996 as the Orange Prize, the Baileys come with a £30,000 cash prize and a bronze trophy known as a Bessie. It recognizes “excellence, originality and accessibility.”