Deborah Levy

Deborah Levy, author of novel Swimming Home (published by And Other Stories)

Be sure to enjoy language, experiment with ways of talking, be exuberant when you don’t feel like it because language can make your world a better place to live.

– from the story ‘A Better Way to Live’ in Deborah Levy’s Black Vodka: ten stories 

Deborah Levy writes fiction, plays, and poetry. Her work has been staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and she is the author of highly praised books including The Unloved, Swallowing Geography, and Beautiful Mutants. Her novel Swimming Home was shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize, 2012 Specsavers National Book awards, and 2013 Jewish Quarterly Wingate Prize. Her recent short story collection, Black Vodka, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Things I Don’t Want to Know is the title of Levy’s sparkling response to George Orwell’s essay ‘Why I Write’, an autobiographical essay on writing, gender politics and philosophy. Her collection of poetry, An AmorousDiscourse in The Suburbs of Hell, was inspired by William Blake’s vision ofangels perched in a tree on Peckham Common.

Praise for Deborah Levy

  • ‘The strange brilliance of her imagination’ The Independent
  • ‘Levy is consistently striking and successful when reinterpreting and creating new contexts for literary and dramatic ideas.’ Times Literary Supplement
  • ‘She writes like a hyper-kinetic angel.’ Sunday Times
  • ‘[Levy] is a skilled wordsmith and creates an array of intense emotions and moods in precise, controlled prose.’ The Independent
  • ‘Levy speaks in an almost conspiratorial manner. Her writing is very similar, boasting a directness that’s hard to turn away from, but there’s nothing quiet about her written words.’ The Irish Times
  • ‘A major contemporary writer who never pulls her punches.’ Julia Pascal, The Independent
  • ‘Levy sensitively conveys the phenomenology of textures, of skin and breath. Embedded in her coiled, polished sentences is the drive that pushes us together, and forces us apart.’ Times Literary Supplement
  • ‘Levy is an exciting writer, sharp and shocking as the knives her characters wield.’ Sunday Times
  • ‘Delicate, calm, mysterious, both playful and terribly sad.’ Mary Gaitskill, New York Times
  • ‘She is one of the few contemporary British writers comfortable on a world stage.’ New Statesman
  • ‘Levy’s prose throbs its way into the imagination.’ The Observer
  • ‘Levy’s strength is her originality of thought and expression.’ Jeanette Winterson
  • ‘… one of my favourite living writers …’  Joanna WalshRestless Books
  • ‘I made notes to read as much as I can find by Deborah Levy…’
  • ‘Lively, sharp, remarkably evocative with very few words, Levy is the best kind of “modern” writer’ Booklist (USA)

An Amorous Discourse in the Suburbs of Hell


More Information

  • Read more about An Amorous Discourse in the Suburbs of Hell in the book section.
  • Read an interview with Deborah Levy in The Independent.

Praise for An Amorous Discourse in the Suburbs of Hell

  • ‘I loved this effervescent dialogue between she and he, angel and accountant, wild desire and the (ever more desirable) quotidian. It’s Deborah Levy at her wise, witty and playful best. Read it and be seduced away from (or back into) the suburbs of hell.’ Lisa Appignanesi, author of All About Love
  • ‘Levy just gets it entirely – the whole business of drab and yet compelling routine, and the fear of the inestimable, the longing nonetheless, the surrender each day to the ordinary, dispersing the dream, only to dream it again.  An Amorous Discourse in the Suburbs of Hell encapsulates all of this, redeems the crumpled weary mortal, sends him into a wild realm of uncertainty, satirises him, lavishes him with affection.  A crazily beautiful, astonishing, original work of art.’ Joanna Kavenna, author of Come to the Edge
  • ‘Whether writing with barely suppressed rage or achieving a brisk comic pace, the writing of Deborah Levy rarely lets the reader grow complacent….Levy deals with grand themes in unexpected ways, and her latest book (in a manner of speaking) addresses this head-on….Levy’s characters find their comfort in the small moments — though for a man and an angel, what counts as a small moment differs wildly. This poem is able to find moments of light comedy and ponder everyday moments of bliss and satisfaction; that it’s able to balance the two so nimbly is no small achievement. And ultimately, the tension between these two modes gives the work as a whole an abundant energy, echoing and reinforcing its central conflict, and balancing the sacred and the mundane.’ The Daily Jewish Forward
  • ‘Choppy and sparky, this sharply drawn dialogue plays out like an otherworldly soap opera. Levy’s having fun and so will the reader.’ We Love This Book
  • ‘Landing back in the UK, this autumn I’m looking forward to Deborah Levy’s An Amorous Discourse in the Suburbs of Hell. Joanna Walsh, 3am Magazine
  • ‘With one foot in prose, but wings pulling free into air, Deborah Levy’s An Amorous Discourse in the Suburbs of Hell is a prose-poem about the line between prose and poetry.’ Joanna Walsh, for Shakespeare and Company – Books of the Year 2014
  • ‘Levy makes something singular of this typical love-stuff….like an indelible pop song, Levy’s text chooses all the right, simple words with an uncanny melody…Discourse wastes no time doing anything but shaking you up.’ John Wilmes, Bookslut
  • ‘It will delight readers.’ Library Journal

Black Vodka: ten stories 

Title story shortlisted for the BBC International Short Story Award 2012

Black Vodka DM

More information

  • Read more about Black Vodka in the book section.
  • The title story of Black Vodka was shortlisted for the BBC International Short Story Award 2012.
  • If you had subscribed to And Other Stories before this book’s publication, you would have received one of the first copies of Black Vodka, in which all subscribers are thanked by name. (And everyone who was a subscriber since Swimming Home, received a copy signed by Deborah Levy.) Find out about subscribing to upcoming titles here.

Praise for Black Vodka

  • ‘There is a sexy hauteur in Deborah Levy’s prose reminiscent of the voice of Marianne Faithfull. The rasping, deadpan delivery of these ten new stories emit a dreamy harshness at once jaded and invigorating.’ Catherine Taylor, New Statesman
  • ‘Here, as in her previous plays, stories and novels, her writing exhibits a rhetorical severity which has a mythic, lullaby quality, experimental and at the same time simple and beautiful.’ Alex Christofi, The Literateur
  • ‘fabulously jolting’, ‘accomplished and uncanny’, ‘The strange, unpredictable journey is worth it.’ Alex Clark, The Guardian
  • ‘Levy’s sinister, near-private language’ provides ‘more signs that her work is mellowing […] these ominous, odd, erotic stories burrow deep into your brain.’ Anthony Cummins, Financial Times
  • ‘Levy’s latest collection of short stories explores love, loss, and betrayal as well as the small cruelties that play out in modern day lives through elegantly conceived and executed prose.’ Lucy Popescu, The Independent on Sunday
  • ‘Deborah Levy’s Black Vodka is a collection of mischievous vignettes of Mitteleuropa in the almost quarter of a century since the fall of the Berlin Wall.’ Catherine Taylor, The Telegraph
  • ‘The full work lingers on as more than the sum of its parts, so that each elliptical story becomes, by virtue of inclusion in the collective, its own second, larger narrative.’ Fiona Melrose, Writer’s Hub
  •  ‘[a] sharply surreal collection of pieces … Like Lydia Davis, Levy pushes the idea of ‘story’ … these are shots, potent and punchy, to be read individually and savoured rather than drunk down in one go.’  Julia Bell, Books of the Year, Writer’s Hub 
  • ‘Humane in its perception, dazzling in its originality and crystalline in its expression.’ Isabel Costello, The Literary Sofa
  • ‘It seems only fitting that [Levy] follows her tour-de-force with this selection of her pared-down short fiction … [her] pen is a volatile weapon.’ Lucy Scholes, The Observer
  • ‘Deborah Levy is one of the most exciting voices in contemporary British fiction, and her new collection, Black Vodka, delivers the sophisticated and astringent tone her readers have long come to expect.’ Lauren Elkin,  Times Literary Supplement
  • ‘These tales of unconventional love reinforce Levy’s reputation as a major contemporary writer who never pulls her punches.’  Julia Pascal, The Independent
  • ‘Black Vodka’s stories, characters and settings live and breathe beyond the last page detailing their lives … Somewhere, these stories live on, testament to the vivid prose and razor sharp structure of Levy’s writing.’ Jennie Blake, Book Hugger
  • ‘Excellent collection Black Vodka … It’s beautifully and subtly done; a tale obliquely told through objects lost and vivid impressions of a couple of summer days … All the stories in this collection are worth lingering over and rereading.’  Jenny Wren and Bella Wilfer
  • ‘There is darkness here, puzzlement and often a sensation that you need to read each story again and again to get more from it – so I did … A brilliant collection indeed.’ Savidge Reads
  • ‘Metropolitan and knowingly sophisticated, Levy’s sparse, elegant stories are poetic and faintly surreal’. Phil Baker, The Sunday Times
  • ‘Black Vodka is an inexhaustible feast. Its richness can be ascribed in part to that style of weighted reticence we sense at work in Swimming Home.’ Kevin Breathnach, The Stinging Fly

Swimming Home

Man Booker Prize 2012 Shortlisted

Deborah Levy Swimming Home jacket illustration

More Information

  • Read more about Swimming Home in the book section.
  • Shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize, 2012 Specsavers National Book Awards (UK Author of the Year) and 2013 Jewish Quarterly Wingate Prize.
  • Tom McCarthy on Swimming Home and Deborah Levy’s place in the UK literary scene. Download the [download id=”38″]
  • Read Sinead Gleeson’s in-depth interview with Deborah Levy for The Irish Times

Praise for Swimming Home

  • ‘Deborah Levys storytelling is allusive, elliptical and disturbing. Her touch is gentle, often funny and always acute… This is a prizewinner.’ Julia Pascal, The Independent
  • ‘Readers will have to resist the temptation to hurry up in order to find out what happens . . . Our reward is the enjoyable, if unsettling, experience of being pitched into the deep waters of Levy’s wry, accomplished novel.’ Francine Prose, The New York Times Book Review
  • ‘Deborah Levy has made something strange and new … spiky and unsettling. In Swimming Home, home is elusive, safety is unlikely, and the reader closes the book both satisfied and unnerved.’ John Self, The Guardian
  • ‘Ms. Levy is a stealthy storyteller, lulling us while busy scattering clues.’ The New York Times
  •  ‘A stealthily devastating book … Levy manipulates light and shadow with artfulness. She transfixes the reader … This is an intelligent, pulsating literary beast.’  Philip Womack, The Daily Telegraph
  • ‘Deborah Levy’s brilliant Swimming Home is this year’s Man Booker Prize revelation.’ The Times
  • ‘Exquisite … Levy’s sense of dramatic form is unerring, and her precise, dispassionate prose effortlessly summons people and landscapes.’ The New Yorker
  • Swimming Home is a statement on the power of the unsaid. Magisterial … Themes, phrases and images recur in rhythmic cycles through this fugal novel. Levys cinematic clarity and momentum convey confusion with remarkable lucidity.’ Abigail Deutsch, Times Literary Supplement
  • ‘Swimming Home is as sharp as a wasp sting. Christina Petrie, Sunday Times
  • ‘A compact treasure. Boyd Tonkin, in his round-up of the year’s best fiction, The Independent
  • ‘Delicate, calm, mysterious, both playful and terribly sad.’ Mary Gaitskill, New York Times



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Swimming Home


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