Deborah Levy

A novelist and playwright, her work blurs the boundaries between fiction and autobiography and uses gender to frame its examination of the politics of writing.

© Sheila Burnett

Deborah Levy, one of the most widely acclaimed novelists and playwrights in the United Kingdom today, was born in South Africa but her family decided to move to the UK after her father, a member of the African National Congress, was persecuted by the apartheid regime. Levy studied theatre at the Dartington College of Arts, worked as a Creative Arts Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, and was also director of the MANACT theatre company in Cardiff. Her first success as a playwright was Heresies & Eva and Moses (1987), which was performed by the Royal Shakespeare Company and acclaimed by the critics.

She subsequently alternated her work in the theatre with writing novels. Notable among the latter are Swimming Home (And Other Stories, 2011), Hot Milk (Hamish Hamilton, 2016) and The Man Who Saw Everything (Hamish Hamilton, 2019). In Things I Don’t Want to Know (Notting Hill Editions, 2013) Levy, combining autobiography with literary and feminist theory, establishes a dialogue with George Orwell’s influential essay Why I Write. She has also published a memoir, The Cost of Living: A Working Autobiography (in Spanish, El coste de vivir, Literatura Random House, 2019) in which, she reflects on femininity, writing, and life. Deborah Levy is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, a member of the Columbia Institute for Ideas and Imagination and has been a finalist for the Man Booker Prize several times. Her latest novel is August Blue (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2023).

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