"The crow crossed the sky, slow-beating her wings. Beat, beat, beat. It was night, not yet morning, and her feathers were so black that she coasted the air invisible above the city wall."
Thus begins Ali Smith's retelling of Sophocles' tragedy, about a young Theban princess, who decides to bury her dishonoured brother Polynices, against King Creon's express orders-with heart-breaking consequences.
Ali Smith was born in Inverness, where she was quite good at ice-skating and spent a lot of time on the back of a black Shetland pony called Hodrum. When she was about seven years old she began to write stories and poems. The first poem that she remembers writing was about a girl called Isabel debating with an adder, which was threatening to bite her, about which of them would live the longest. (Isabel won.)