Things I Don't Want to Know Summary and Reviews

Things I Don't Want to Know

On Writing

by Deborah Levy

Things I Don't Want to Know by Deborah Levy X
Things I Don't Want to Know by Deborah Levy
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2014
    128 pages
    Genre: Biography/Memoir

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Book Summary

Blending personal history, gender politics, philosophy, and literary theory into a luminescent treatise on writing, love, and loss, Things I Don't Want to Know is Deborah Levy's witty response to George Orwell's influential essay "Why I Write." Orwell identified four reasons he was driven to hammer at his typewriter - political purpose, historical impulse, sheer egoism, and aesthetic enthusiasm - and Levy's newest work riffs on these same commitments from a female writer's perspective.

As she struggles to balance womanhood, motherhood, and her writing career, Levy identifies some of the real-life experiences that have shaped her novels, including her family's emigration from South Africa in the era of apartheid; her teenage years in the UK where she played at being a writer in the company of builders and bus drivers in cheap diners; and her theater-writing days touring Poland in the midst of Eastern Europe's economic crisis, where she observed how a soldier tenderly kissed the women in his life goodbye.

Spanning continents (Africa and Europe) and decades (we meet the author at seven, fifteen, and fifty), Things I Don't Want to Know brings the reader into a writer's heart.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Author of the Man Booker Prize shortlisted Swimming Home offers a slim, nuanced autobiography that addresses Orwell's timeless question of "Why I Write" from a woman's perspective" - Publishers Weekly

"Readers get only a vague sense of what these things we don't want to know might be in a book that seems like a catharsis for the writer but might prove enigmatic for most readers." - Kirkus

"A vivid, striking account of a writer's life, which feminises and personalises Orwell's blunt assertions." - The Spectator (UK)

"Powerful." -The New Statesman(UK)

"[Levy] is a skilled wordsmith and creates an array of intense emotions and moods in precise, controlled prose." -The Independent(UK)

"While billed as a response to George Orwell's essay 'Why I Write,' it is as much an up-to-date version of A Room of One's Own, and, like the Virginia Woolf essay, I suspect it will be quoted for many years to come." -The Irish Examiner

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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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