Canongate U.S.
Canongate U.S.
Canongate U.S.

Girl Meets Boy

The Myth of Iphis

by Ali Smith

“The plot primarily concerns the sisters’ changing perceptions, which Smith conveys in vibrant interior monologues and sublime prose.” –The New Yorker

  • Imprint Canongate U.S.
  • Page Count 176
  • Publication Date January 19, 2009
  • ISBN-13 978-1-8476-7186-8
  • Dimensions 5" x 7.75"
  • US List Price $14.00
  • Imprint Canongate U.S.
  • Page Count 176
  • Publication Date January 08, 2008
  • ISBN-13 978-1-8476-7019-9
  • Dimensions 5" x 7.75"
  • US List Price $18.00

About The Book

From the astonishingly talented writer of The Accidental and Hotel World comes Ali Smith’s brilliant retelling of Ovid’s gender-bending myth of Iphis and Ianthe, as seen through the eyes of two Scottish sisters. Girl Meets Boy is about girls and boys, girls and girls, love and transformation, and the absurdity of consumerism, as well as a story of reversals and revelations that is as sharply witty as it is lyrical. Funny, fresh, poetic, and political, Girl Meets Boy is a myth of metamorphosis for a world made in Madison Avenue’s image, and the funniest addition to the Myths series from Canongate since Margaret Atwood’s The Penelopiad.


“The plot primarily concerns the sisters’ changing perceptions, which Smith conveys in vibrant interior monologues’and sublime prose”” –The New Yorker

“Smith plays with language and consciousness in lyrical, humorous, poignant ways that mark her as an original voice”With wit and obvious delight, Smith slaps at the ploys of consumerism, plays with social contructs, tweaks generational identity, and upends gender expectations–all in the guise of a story about the transformative powers of love and art and ideas.” –Beth Taylor, The Providence Journal

“A playful political romp”” –Elle Magazine shortlist

“[A] whimsical spin on the myth of Iphis and Ianthe”[The similarity of Robin Goodman to Robin Goodfellow] gives us a clue to the novel’s sense of mischief, enchantment and impish wit”[Smith’s] dancing prose and nimble storytelling are palpable hits.” –Sunday Times (UK)

“Hats off to Canongate for this inspired series. “[Girl Meets Boy is] a typically exuberant anti-consumerist tale, which has something of Ovid’s erotic lilt to it. “This slender, sweet natured, lyrical tale not only nods but also winks and grins at the many books it could not have been written without.” –The Guardian

“A humorous story with political undertones, “Girl Meets Boy” is a modern-day interpretation of the gender-bending myth of Iphis and Ianthe, two star-crossed lovers who cannot marry because they are the same sex”The writing is tight”A short, fun read, “Girl Meets Boy” is full of pop culture references such as Facebook, MySpace and Google, constant reminders that our identity, politics and imagination are bound by our social mores, not by our Olympian gods.” –San Francisco Chronicle

“Ali Smith’s new novella…is as much a political tract as a work of fiction. Multiple tracts, actually–Smith addresses weighty matters of sexism, globalization and the environment in fewer than 200 pages. Most impressively, she does so while preserving her graceful storytelling and avoiding knee-jerk bromides’Romance blooms, and Smith’s prose beautifully blurs gender distinctions’smith earns the right to lecture–the humor, precision and intellect’see to that.” –The Chicago Sun Times

“Ali Smith’s “Girl Meets Boy” might give you the inspiration you need to seek out love”A”compact, rollicking novel”In Smith’s hands, Ovid’s gender-bending metamorphosis story gets a Madison Avenue-style makeover.” –The San Diego Union-Tribune

“A cheerful, sexy, disorienting take on the gender-shifting myths of Iphis’smith’s spare and sharp lyricism”are handled with glee “and Smith’s cadences, which read like classical drama, carry the novel along beautifully.” –Publisher’s Weekly

“Novelist and short-story writer Smith’slyly explores a blurring of the sexual divide”there’s’plenty of her customary stylistic and intellectual playfulness, as well as some bravura passages, in this story of sisters Imogen and Anthea Gunn’the comic, smart, spirited tale-spinning often amuses.” –Kirkus Reviews

“Smith’s small novel imaginatively touches on big subjects of political and social importance.” –Library Journal

“It is clever, complex and thrilling…her version of Ovid is at once tender and affectionate”Girl Meets Boy delights because it refuses to stop at a single metamorphosis’Its stories multiply and rebound exuberantly, its echoes calling to one another across the pages.” –Alex Clark, The Times Literary Supplement (UK)

“A joyful and playful remix . . . The result is an ecstatic, exhilarating helter-skelter ride of a story which shows just how relevant Ovid’s myth of the transformative power of love is to modern readers.” –Emma Jacobs, The Financial Times (UK)

“From its arresting opening line to its exuberant ending, Girl Meets Boy is concerned with gender, love and transformation.” –London Review of Books (UK)

“A glorious wide-awake dream of a book’smith is a gravely moral writer – and that is partly why her contribution to the world of myth is so powerful. . . By the time I finished the book, my heart was beating and tears stood in my eyes, even as I had the biggest smile written all over my face.” –Kirsty Gunn, The Observer (UK)

“In this modern-day reinterpretation, Ali Smith, with humour and typical linguistic versatility, explores issues of homophobia, corporate and social responsibility and the sheer vertiginous feeling of falling in love . . . a delicate tale with a solid message of conscientious objection at its heart. It reaches a joyful conclusion in which the formalised pairing off of couples is more reminiscent of Shakespearean comedy that the gruesome imagery of Ovid. Keith enquires of his team: “How, precisely, do we bottle imagination?” Effervescent retellings such as this perhaps provide the answer.” –Catherine Taylor, Independent on Sunday (UK)

“Smith’s style encompasses both the lyricism of poetry and the energy of a well-told joke, and she has a keen appreciation for magic of the everyday kind, be it the way musical notes are transformed into the song of a blackbird, or the precise moment two people meet and fall in love.” –Amber Pearson, The Daily Mail (UK)

“…a sweet and perceptive take on lesbian love in Scotland…As fanciful as it is honest and as moving as it is hilarious, this is a gorgeous story.” –Alexandra Heminsley, The London Paper (UK)

“She retells it very prettily and wittily … Smith is in very good company – and she doesn’t look out of place”It’s a lovely piece of writing.” –Allan Massie, Scotsman (UK)

Girl Meets Boy is not about life after death, but it is a joyful celebration of life in all its strange shapes, on all sides of the wall.” –The Times (UK)

“It’s funny, serious, light-hearted and uplifting.” –Dan Champion, Revish (UK)

“I was utterly captivated by Ali Smith’s reworking of the myth of Iphis, Girl Meets Boy (Canongate) not least for its vivid realisation of Inverness and of a contemporary business there, the Pure Water Company, both contexts for its touching, rhapsodic love-story.” –Paul Binding, The Independent on Sunday (UK)

“Alive with ideas, bursting with creative energy”Great writing makes for great reading, and it cheers me up just because it is so good.” –Jeannette Winterson, The Independent (UK)

“A sprightly love story that plays on notions of gender and sexuality to exuberant effect.” –The Observer (UK)

“The latest three in the Canongate Myths series would adorn any stocking”It was a great and simple idea, to ask leading writers to revisit ancient myths. In particular, Ali Smith’s interpretation of a tale in Ovid, Girl Meets Boy is as fresh and pungent as new paint.” –Kate Saunders, The Times (UK)

“Ali Smith bursts from the page with her fabulous retelling of the story of Iphis and Ianthe from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Girl Meets Boy (Canongate) pulls you in and doesn’t let you go. Never afraid of big ideas, morality or politics, Smith’s retelling is bold and brilliant – containing the best sex I’ve read in years.” –Jackie Kay, The Observer Review Supplement (UK)

“Ali Smith’s modern take on Ovid is my lollipop of the year . . . a new take on a Greek myth. Ovid offered a version of it in his Metamorphoses. Smith doesn’t lose in comparison to him.” –Allan Massie, The Scotsman (UK)

“Everywhere there is playfulness, mischief, delight in love and language, startlingly graceful trapeze-leaps of thought. Smith writes with unplugged energy of the fiddler she conjures up to play at Anthea’s ‘dream” wedding . . .” –Jennie Renton, The Sunday Herald (UK)

“The tale is charming, the prose (in places) poetic. . . Smith remembers what the ancients knew: that musical words drum a beat through to understanding.” –Bettany Hughes, The Times (UK)

“It is a clever use of the myth, and Ali Smith has delivered another exuberant cascade of words; the romance is described in a lyrical flood and Imogen’s part is dealt with mainly in accomplished streams of consciousness.” –The Spectator (UK)

“There is much warmth and word play in the telling. There is also inspired and original writing.” –Revish (UK)

“Jaunty lightness, carefree, labile inventiveness and powerful tenderness work their magic on the reader.” –Stevie Davies, The Independent (UK)

“Smith creates a story of the head-spinning ecstasy of falling in love”Her ideas are rich, complex and thrillingly life-affirming”Gentle, generous and wonderfully imaginative, this is a joy to read.” –Tina Jackson, Metro (UK)

Girl Meets Boy is certainly infectious in its enthusiasm for the notion of unfettered true love”” –Hannah McGill, Scottish Review of Books (UK)

“Girl Meets Boy is a joyful, experimental work. Smith deftly employs all kind of linguistic tricks to paint her characters . . . Smith is a playful writer who takes fun seriously, and whose ease, erudition and eloquence can sometimes be mistaken for an end in itself . . . I’m sure that the urbane and witty Ovid would have wholeheartedly approved.” –Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday (UK)

“Smith handles questions of gender, sexual orientation and society’s often ludicrous judgments with verve and humor. Her sarcasm both eases the tensions of such issues and suggests their more fundamental importance…Smith seems enraptured by the intellectual challenge of retelling one of Ovid’s metamorphosis tales.” –Rocky Mountain News

“A cheerful, sexy, disorienting take on the gender-shifting myths of Iphis’” –Robert Birnbaum, The Morning News

“Smith plays with language and consciousness in lyrical, humorous, poignant ways that mark her as an original voice”With wit and obvious delight, Smith slaps at the ploys of consumerism, plays with social contructs, tweaks generational identity, and upends gender expectations–all in the guise of a story about the transformative powers of love and art and ideas.” –Beth Taylor, The Providence Journal


I wondered if Midge would remember that song, about the bird in the barn and the snow coming. I remembered it as something to do with our mother. I didn’t know if that was a true memory or if I’d just made it up.

I sat down on the kitchen floor. I traced a square in the parquet with my finger. Come on. Get a grip. I should have been on my way to work. I should have been on my way to my next new day at the new Pure. I had a good new job. I would be making good money. It was all good. I was a Creative. That’s what I was. That’s who I was. Anthea Gunn, Pure Creative.

But I stared at my grandparents in their photo, with their arms round each other and their heads together, and I wished that my own bones were unbound, I wished they were mingling, picked clean by fish, with the bones of another body, a body my bones and heart and soul had loved with unfathomable certainty for decades, and both of us down deep now, lost to everything but the fact of bare bones on a dark seabed.

Midge was right. I was going to be late for work. I was late already.

Not Midge. Imogen. (Keith.) (What’s the magic word?)

At least my sister had a Shakespearian name. At least her name meant something. Anthea. For God’s sake.

Weren’t people supposed to get named after gods and goddesses, rivers, places that mattered, the heroines of books or plays, or members of their family who’d gone before them?