The Cost of Living: Book summary and reviews of The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy

The Cost of Living

A Working Autobiography

by Deborah Levy

The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy X
The Cost of Living by Deborah Levy
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  • Published in USA  Jul 2018
    144 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

A searching examination of all the dimensions of love, marriage, mourning, and kinship from two-time Booker Prize finalist Deborah Levy.

To strip the wallpaper off the fairy tale of The Family House in which the comfort and happiness of men and children has been the priority is to find behind it an unthanked, unloved, neglected, exhausted woman.

The Cost of Living explores the subtle erasure of women's names, spaces, and stories in the modern everyday. In this "living autobiography" infused with warmth and humor, Deborah Levy critiques the roles that society assigns to us, and reflects on the politics of breaking with the usual gendered rituals. What does it cost a woman to unsettle old boundaries and collapse the social hierarchies that make her a minor character in a world not arranged to her advantage?

Levy draws on her own experience of attempting to live with pleasure, value, and meaning - the making of a new kind of family home, the challenges of her mother's death - and those of women she meets in everyday life, from a young female traveler reading in a bar who suppresses her own words while she deflects an older man's advances, to a particularly brilliant student, to a kindly and ruthless octogenarian bookseller who offers the author a place to write at a difficult time in her life. The Cost of Living is urgent, essential reading, a crystalline manifesto for turbulent times.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Keen and moving... This timely look at how women are viewed (and often dismissed) by society will resonate with many readers, but particularly with those who have felt marginalized or undervalued." - Publishers Weekly

"An elegant, candid meditation on the fraught journey to self-knowledge." - Kirkus

"Ms. Levy's great imagination, the poetry of her language, her way of finding the wonder in the everyday, of saying a lot with a little, of moving gracefully among pathos, danger and humor." - The New York Times

"Elegant ... Subtle ... Uncanny ... The seductive pleasure of Levy's prose stems from its layered brilliance." - The Washington Post

"Searching for something to read after devouring Women and Power? Known for her piquant novels, Deborah Levy now takes to non-fiction, with a 'working autobiography' that comprises thoughtful dissections of life as a woman." - Elle Magazine, "Here Are the 21 Books We're Most Excited to Read in 2018"

"Levy's pen is a volatile weapon." - The Guardian (UK)

"Levy manipulates light and shadow with artfulness. She transfixes the reader: we recognize ... the thing of darkness in us all." - The Telegraph (UK)

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Author Information

Deborah Levy Author Biography

Deborah Levy was born in 1959 in South Africa, where her father was a member of the African National Congress, an academic, and a historian. The family emigrated to Wembley Park, England in 1968. Her parents divorced in 1974

Levy trained at Dartington College of Arts, leaving in 1981 to write a number of plays, including Pax, Heresies for the Royal Shakespeare Company, and and was director and writer for Manact Theatre Company, Cardiff

In 1986, at the age of 27, she wrote and published her first novel Beautiful Mutants. Her second novel, Swallowing Geography, was published in 1993, while her third one, Billy and Girl, was published in 1996. Swimming Home, was published in 2011 and has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012. Hot Milk was published in 2016, and was ...

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