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, her latest novel, was published in 2011 and has been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012.
She has always written across a number of art forms and was Fellow Commoner in Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge from 19891991.
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Naomi Benaron, whose Bellwether Prize winning first novel, Running the Rift, is set during the Rwandan genocide, chats with Deborah Levy about her latest novel, Swimming Home.
Naomi: First, I would like to congratulate you on all your honors for Swimming Home: shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, shortlisted for the Jewish Quarterly Wingate Prize and shortlisted for National Book Awards Author of the Year.
There is a quote from your interview with Gareth Evans that I love: "If I let 'the market' write my books for me and tell me what I think and how you think and what we are like, what kind of conversation would I be having with my readers? What kind of conversation would they be having with me?" In light of this, how do you see your role in terms of changing or influencing the direction of writing and publishing in this sadly corporate world?
Deborah: I didn't really set out to change the direction of writing and publishing. I wrote a book that I knew was worth something because the act of writing it had shaken me to the core. By the time I had finished Swimming Home I had become a different sort of writer to the one I was when I started it.
If a change had happened inside me while I was writing ...
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