Margot Livesey biography

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Margot Livesey
Photo: Marion Ettlinger

Margot Livesey

Margot Livesey Biography

Margot Livesey grew up in a boys' private school in the Scottish Highlands where her father taught, and her mother, Eva, was the school nurse. After taking a B.A. in English and philosophy at the University of York in England she spent most of her twenties working in shops and restaurants and learning to write. Her first book, a collection of stories called Learning By Heart, was published by Penguin Canada in 1986. Since then Margot has published eight novels: Homework, Criminals, The Missing World, Eva Moves the Furniture, Banishing Verona, The House on Fortune Street, The Flight of Gemma Hardy, and Mercury. Her ninth novel, The Boy in the Field, will be published in August 2020 by HarperCollins in the US and by Hoddard & Stoughton in the UK. The Hidden Machinery, a collection of essays on writing, was published by Tin House Books in 2017.

Margot has taught at Boston University, Bowdoin College, Brandeis University, Carnegie Mellon, Cleveland State, Emerson College, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Tufts University, the University of California at Irvine, the Warren Wilson College MFA program for writers, and Williams College. She has been the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the N.E.A., the Massachusetts Artists' Foundation and the Canada Council for the Arts. Margot is currently teaching at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. She lives with her husband, a painter, in Cambridge, MA, and goes back to London and Scotland whenever she can.

Alice Sebold says, "Every novel of Margot Livesey's is, for her readers, a joyous discovery. Her work radiates with compassion and intelligence and always, deliciously, mystery."

Margot Livesey's website

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Interview

Margot Livesey explains why she chose to write about a romance between a man with Asberger's Syndrome and a radio show host, and what she learned from looking at the world from Zeke's very different viewpoint.

Where did the idea for this novel come from?
In 1998 I read a story in the newspaper about a Scottish student who came to Miami for his summer holidays, was mugged and ended up trying to rob a bank. Something about the young man's bewilderment, his parents' dismay, crystallized two long held writerly ambitions: to depict someone who saw the world differently and to explore the difficulties of knowing another person. I sat down almost at once and wrote what became the first chapter. I then set it aside for almost two years while I worked on Eva Moves the Furniture. When I returned to my pages I realized at once that my character, Zeke, would never rob a bank and that I was also writing a love story.

The book's narration alternates effortlessly between the point of view of a young man with a personality disorder and the point of view of a female, pregnant radio show host. How did you cultivate these two very different voices and was it difficult to switch back and forth, writing from both perspectives?
Switching back and forth between Zeke and Verona was one of the great pleasures of writing the novel. I loved trying to understand the world from Zeke's particular angle. What do we actually see ...

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Books by this Author

Books by Margot Livesey at BookBrowse
The Boy in the Field jacket Mercury jacket The Flight of Gemma Hardy jacket The House on Fortune Street jacket
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Readalikes

All the books below are recommended as readalikes for Margot Livesey but some maybe more relevant to you than others depending on which books by the author you have read and enjoyed. So look for the suggested read-alikes by title linked on the right.
How we choose readalikes

  • Jill Bialosky

    Jill Bialosky

    Jill Bialosky is the author of four poetry collections: The Players; The End of Desire; Subterranean, a finalist for the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets; and Intruder, a finalist for the 2009 ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Banishing Verona

    Try:
    The Prize
    by Jill Bialosky

  • Nickolas Butler

    Nickolas Butler

    Nickolas Butler was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania, raised in Eau Claire, Wisconsin and educated at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop. He is the author of the ... (more)

    If you enjoyed:
    Mercury

    Try:
    The Hearts of Men
    by Nickolas Butler

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