Biography

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 is a British playwright, novelist and poet. She is the author of six novels, Beautiful Mutants (1986); Swallowing Geography (1993); The Unloved (1994); Billy & Girl (1996); and Swimming Home (2011), which was shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize as well as the Jewish Quarterly Wingate Prize. Deborah is also the author of a collection of short stories, Black Vodka (2013), which was shortlisted for the BBC International Short Story Award and the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. She has written for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the BBC. Her latest novel, Hot Milk, was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize.

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  • Read more about Swimming Home, Black Vodka and An Amorous Discourse in the Suburbs of Hell by clicking on the book covers below.

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Reviews


New Yorker

‘Exquisite . . . Levy’s sense of dramatic form, as she hastens us toward the grim finale, is unerring, and her prose effortlessly summons people and landscapes.’


Sunday Times

Swimming Home is as sharp as a wasp sting . . . Witty and poignant, its pages melt away like an unsettling yet familiar dream.’


The Guardian

‘Deborah Levy has made something strange and new . . . spiky and unsettling. In this novel, home is elusive, safety is unlikely, and the reader closes the book both satisfied and unnerved.’


The Telegraph

'A stealthily devastating book . . . Levy manipulates light and shadow with artfulness. She transfixes the reader: we recognize the thing of darkness in us all. This is an intelligent, pulsating literary beast.’


Financial Times

Swimming Home is a beautiful, delicate book underpinned by a complexity that only reveals itself slowly to the reader.’


The Independent

‘This amazing novel is a haunting exploration of loss and longing. It has an epic quality.’


Daily Mail

‘A lean, filmic novel humming with secrets. Its prose is luminous and, despite the darkness of themes that include depression and loss, there is immense tenderness.’


Times Literary Supplement

‘A statement on the power of the unsaid. Magisterial . . . Themes, phrases and images recur in rhythmic cycles through this fugal novel. Levy’s cinematic clarity and momentum convey confusion with remarkable lucidity.’


New York Times

'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.’

Ron Charles
The Washington Post

‘Elegant . . . subtle . . . uncanny. . . The seductive pleasure of Levy’s prose stems from its layered brilliance.’


Wall Street Journal

‘Here is an excellent story, told with the subtlety and menacing tension of a veteran playwright.’


The Independent

‘These tales of unconventional love reinforce Levy’s reputation as a major contemporary writer who never pulls her punches.’


Sunday Times

‘Metropolitan and knowingly sophisticated.’


Financial Times

‘These ominous, odd, erotic stories burrow deep into your brain.’


The Telegraph

‘A collection of mischievous vignettes of Mitteleuropa.’

Alex Clark
The Guardian

‘Like their protagonists, these stories are powerful because they are fragmentary, elliptical.’

Lucy Scholes
The Observer

‘Levy’s pen is a volatile weapon.’

Lauren Elkin
Times Literary Supplement

‘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.’

Lisa Appignanesi

‘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.’

Joanna Kavenna

‘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.’


‘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.’

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