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Deborah Levy

Author of Swimming Home

41+ Works 3,980 Members 181 Reviews 6 Favorited

About the Author

Includes the name: Deborah Levy

Image credit: The Booker Prize Foundation


Works by Deborah Levy

Swimming Home (2011) 885 copies
Hot Milk (2015) 860 copies
The Cost of Living (2018) 472 copies
The Man Who Saw Everything (2019) 450 copies
Things I Don't Want to Know (2013) 390 copies
Real Estate (2021) 223 copies
August Blue (2023) 148 copies
Black Vodka (2013) 126 copies
Billy and Girl (1996) 62 copies
The Unloved (1994) 51 copies
Beautiful Mutants (1989) 43 copies
Swallowing Geography (1993) 34 copies
Ophelia and the Great Idea (1988) 31 copies

Associated Works

The Bastard (1964) — Introduction, some editions — 494 copies
Best European Fiction 2010 (2009) — Contributor — 166 copies
The Lady and the Little Fox Fur (1965) — Introduction, some editions — 153 copies
Granta 63: Beasts (1998) — Contributor — 132 copies
All Dogs Are Blue (2013) — Introduction, some editions — 62 copies
Paris (1920) — Foreword, some editions — 32 copies
A Second Skin: Women Write about Clothes (1998) — Contributor — 17 copies
Spindles: Short Stories from the Science of Sleep (2016) — Contributor — 7 copies


2019 (18) 21st century (35) autobiography (34) Berlin (14) biography (16) Booker Prize (14) Booker Prize Shortlist (42) British (39) British fiction (13) British literature (42) contemporary fiction (25) depression (19) ebook (23) England (28) English (16) English literature (28) essays (27) family (16) feminism (25) fiction (316) France (31) Greece (28) Kindle (37) literary fiction (24) literature (25) London (17) memoir (87) memory (13) mental illness (17) non-fiction (77) novel (75) own (14) poetry (15) read (38) short stories (30) South Africa (18) Spain (39) to-read (368) UK (19) writing (27)

Common Knowledge

Johannesburg, South Africa
Places of residence
Johannesburg, South Africa
Wembley Park, England, UK
Dartington College of Arts
short story writer
Levy, Norman (father)
Awards and honors
Lannan Literary Fellowship (2001)
Short biography
Deborah Levy was born 6 August 1962 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Her father, an academic and historian, was a member of the African National Congress. The family emigrated to Wembley Park, London in 1968. She studied theater at Dartington College of Ars and became a playwright whose works have been staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company since 1981. She is also the author of several acclaimed novels, including Beautiful Mutants (1988), Swallowing Geography (1993), and Billy & Girl (1999). Her novel Swimming Home (2011) was shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize, the Jewish Quarterly-Wingate Prize, and was named a New York Times Notable Book of 2012. The title story in her short story collection, Black Vodka and Other Stories (2013) was shortlisted for the BBC International Short Story Award. Hot Milk was shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize, and The Man Who Saw Everything was selected for the 2019 Booker Prize longlist. She has been a director and writer for the MANACT Theatre Company in Cardiff, Wales, and a Creative Arts Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge. She's a regular contributor of articles and reviews to newspapers and magazines including The Independent, The Guardian, and the New Statesman.



Swimming Home, by Deborah Levy in And Other Stories (January 2013)
Swimming Home by Deborah Levy in Booker Prize (September 2012)


This was my first Deborah Levy book. I read it in one sitting - with delight. I liked her intelligence, honesty, sense of the absurd, and also the way she made me laugh out loud. It was until I got to the end that I found out that Virginia Woolf had prompted the notion of being 'at war with one's lot'. What a wonderful premise for a book. Now looking forward to 'The Cost of Living', the second in her trilogy. Keen to see how her war turns out. It's a deceptively simple book brimming with wit, wisdom and wonder.… (more)
simonpockley | 13 other reviews | Feb 25, 2024 |
My 2 star rating is because I'm not sure what I think of this sequel to 'Things I Don't Want to Know'. I found the book fairly slight, uneven, lacking in shape - in spine, and without the kind of amused reflection of the preceding book in this autobiography. Maybe there is more to be found in a second reading but I probably won't read it again. I wanted more insight and challenge from a book with such a great title. Nevertheless, I consumed the book with interest and a degree of expectation. What probably killed it for me was the superficiality of last line '...is made from the cost of living and is made with digital ink.' Instead of drawing threads together, this last line seemed like failure of nerve. I expected more from Deborah Levy because she has shown she is capable of more than dull passivity. Perhaps when I've thought more about it...… (more)
simonpockley | 18 other reviews | Feb 25, 2024 |
I'm late to the party with this one, which was nominated for the 2019 Booker Prize, the Goldsmith Prize, the George Orwell Prize for Political Fiction and the Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Fiction. Since The Man Who Saw Everything was published in 2019, Deborah Levy has released another novel called August Blue, (reviewed at The Guardian target="_top">here.)

Everybody's read and reviewed Deborah Levy's The Man Who Saw Everything already: Brona at This Reading Life; Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best; Madame Bibliophile who reviewed it for A Novella A Day in May and a heap of the good people I follow at Goodreads including Paul Fulcher. But it was a conversation about the Writer's Prize at Messenger's Booker which prompted me to check up on my reserve at the library, which I'd placed in May 2023 after reading Madame Bibliophile's review. Hmpf, the reserve had 'expired', so I promptly reserved it again at my local library and it came through for me within the week.

The Man Who Saw Everything is as good as everybody says, and I agree that 'the less said about it, the better' because there's a plot twist half way through whose impact would be spoiled if readers know about it in advance. So I shall confine myself to the first part of the book which is about as conventional as Deborah Levy gets in this novel...

In 1988 the young historian Saul Adler is about to set off for East Berlin in the GDR, when he is hit by a car on the Abbey Road. Yes, the famous Beatles' album one. So famous that his girlfriend Jennifer Moreau, a photographer destined to become famous, has staged the same photo, dragging along a step ladder to get the vantage point correct and holding up the traffic herself because she doesn't have the police there to do it for her, like the Beatles did in 1969.

Saul isn't badly hurt, and, still confused and hurt that Jennifer has dumped him, off he goes to the GDR to research resistance to fascism before the rise of Hitler. It is two months before the Fall of the Wall, but this glimpse of daily life in East Berlin gives no hint of that except for Saul's prescient comments to his translator Walter Müller and Walter's sister Luna, but neither of them believe him anyway because of the ubiquitous surveillance and the probability that they are being set up by the Stasi. Only the (alert) reader will wonder, how does he know that?

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2024/01/27/the-man-who-saw-everything-2019-by-deborah-l...… (more)
anzlitlovers | 26 other reviews | Jan 26, 2024 |
Saul Adler has two accidents on Abbey Road.

In the first in 1988 he escapes with minor scratches and a few bruises. In the second he suffers more serious brain and bodily injuries. His friends and relatives gather around his bed as though he has little time to live.

Figuring out where author is going with these two bookends in her novel, “The Man Who Knew Everything,” I admit was a challenge.

Adler is a 28-year-old historian when he has first accident. He is the subject of a photo shoot by his lover Jennifer Moreau. He is about to depart on a research mission to East Berlin to study socialist youth groups under Nazi occupation. His translator’s sister is a big Beatles fan so he is engineering this photo shoot to please her and, presumably, her brother.

When Adler gets to East Berlin he discovers an infatuation with his German translator and the two become lovers. He then is apparently seduced by the sister and begins a brief affair with her as well.

After the second accident Adler tosses over in his mind the meaning of earlier events, confuses physicians with East German Stasi informers, and his relatives for other players in his earlier life.

Adler visits East Berlin before the wall between east and west came down. His second accident occurs after Englishmen voted to leave the European Union. One wall comes down, another wall goes up. It is almost as though Adler walks through a crease in the universe from one reality to another. Or maybe between parallel universes.

Ironically, one of the big hits of the Beatles’ Abbey Road album was “Come Together”. A song which presaged the disintegration of the band.

And why has Levy named her narrator (I hesitate to use the word “hero” because he is most unheroic) “Saul Adler?”

Alfred Adler, a protege of Sigmund Freud, helped launch the profession of psychotherapy and emphasized the importance of the social element in the readjustment process of the individual (Wikipedia). He popularized the idea of the inferiority complex, and its sister concept, the superiority complex.

At a time when social and political walls play such a huge role in public discourse it is a fine mirror for Levy’s story. The Biblical Saul was the first king of a united Israel in the 11th century BCE.

And while Saul knows a lot — including some things about the future — he is sadly ignorant about his own role in society, in relationships, and about his own nature. And here is where satire on our Information age comes into the story.

I am still trying to figure out why Levy named her heroine “Jennifer Moreau,” perhaps after the most famous French actress of the modern era, Jeanne Moreau. Moreau’s only son, Jerome, was seriously injured in a car accident.
… (more)
MylesKesten | 26 other reviews | Jan 23, 2024 |



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