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Andrea Levy

Andrea Levy (1965-2019) was born in London to Jamaican migrants who came to Britain in the late 1940s, her father being one of the passengers who arrived on the Empire Windrush in 1948. She studied and worked in textile design and weaving for over ten years and only started writing when she began to attend Scottish poet Alison Fell’s writing classes in 1988. Influenced by her own experience of reading African American women writers such as Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, and Alice Walker, she began to write the stories she had always wanted to read about being black in Britain.

Her first three novels, Every Light in the House Burnin’ (1994), Never Far from Nowhere (1996), and Fruit of the Lemon (1999), are autobiographically inspired Bildungsromane and address the everyday experiences of black families and young black women in Britain (Lima 2009). Her fourth novel, Small Island (2004), is a more ambitious, political narrative and explores the foundation of Britain’s present-day multicultural society through the experiences of her parents’ generation, Jamaicans who came to the Mother Country in the years immediately following the Second World War. The novel became a best-seller and brought Levy world-wide critical acclaim. It won a host of literary prizes, including the Orange Prize for Fiction (2004), the Whitbread Novel of Award (2004), the Orange Prize “Best of the Best” award (2005) and the Commonwealth Writer's Prize for Best Book (2005); it was adapted for television and broadcast by the BBC in 2009.

Her fifth novel and last novel, The Long Song, appeared in 2010. This neo-slave narrative presenting the life story of a female slave on an early 19th-century Jamaican sugar plantation was shortlisted for the 2010 Man Booker Prize and winner of the 2011 Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. In 2014 Levy published a collection of short fiction entitled Six Stories and an Essay, ​which opens with an autobiographical essay about her early life.

Levy continued to live in London until she passed away on 14 February 2019.


Allardice, Lisa. “The Guardian Profile: Andrea Levy.” The Guardian 21 Jan 2005. Web. 10 June 2012.

Beyer, Charlotte. “Representations of Ageing and Black British Identity in Andrea Levy’s Every Light in the House Burnin’ and Joan Riley’s Waiting in the Twilight”. Andrea Levy. Spec. Issue of EnterText 9 (2012): 105-21. Web. 10 October 2013.

Bonnici, Thomas. “Diaspora in Two Caribbean Novels: Levy‟s Small Island and Phillips’s A State of Independence.” Revista de Letras 45.2 (2005): 81-110.

Brophy, Sarah. “Entangled Genealogies: White Femininity on the Threshold of Change in Andrea Levy’s Small Island.” Contemporary Women’s Writing 4.2 (July 2010): 100-113.

Clark, Alex. Rev. The Long Song, by Andrea Levy.” The Guardian 6 Feb. 2010. Web. 14 Feb. 2010.

Courtman, Sandra. “Women Writers and the Windrush Women: A Contextual Reading of Beryl Gilroy's  In Praise of Love and Children and Andrea Levy’s Small Island.” Andrea Levy. Spec. issue of Entertext: An Interdisciplinary Humanities e-Journal 9 (2012): 84-105. Web. 28 September 2013.

Duboin, Corinne. “Contested Identities: Migrant Stories and Liminal Selves in Andrea Levy’s Small Island”. Obsidian: Literature in the African Diaspora 12, 1 (2011). 14-33. Web. 10 October 2013.

Ellis, A. E. “Identity as Cultural Production in Andrea Levy’s Small Island.Andrea Levy. Spec. Issue of Entertext: An Interdisciplinary Humanities e-Journal t 9 (2012): 69-83. Web. 25 Apr. 2012.

Evelyn, Kim. “Claiming a Space in the Thought-I-Knew-You-Place: Migrant Domesticity, Diaspora, and Home in Andrea Levy’s Small Island”, South Atlantic Review, vol. 78, nos. 3/4, 2013, pp. 129-149.

Fischer, Susan A. “Andrea Levy’s London Novels.” The Swarming Streets: Twentieth-Century Literary Representations of London. Ed. Lawrence Phillips. Amsterdam, New York: Rodopi, 2004. 199-214.

Flajšarová, Pavlína. “Jamaica Revisited: Slave Narrative in Andrea Levy’s The Long Song”.  Zlín Proceedings in Humanities – Volume 4. Ed. Gregory Jason Bell, Nemčoková, Katarína, and Bartosz Wójik. Zlín: Tomas Bata University (2013): 315-322. Web. 16 October 2013.

Fleming, Robert. “Clean Sweep: Andrea Levy Defines What It Is To Be Black, British and a Literary Lioness.” Black Issues Book Review 7.4 (2005): 16-17.

Giommi, Francesca. “Centering Marginality Through Black British Narratives: Small Island and Young Rebels.” Afroeuropa 2.3 (2008).

Greer, Bonnie. “Empire’s Child.” Interview with Andrea Levy. The Guardian 31 Jan. 2004. Web. 18 Jul. 2010.

Gui, Weihsin. “Post-heritage Narratives: Migrancy and Travelling Theory in V.S Naipaul’s The Enigma of Arrival and Andrea Levy’s Fruit of the Lemon.” Journal of Commonwealth Literature 41(2001): 73-89.

Hickman, Christie. “Under the Skin of History.” The Independent. 6 Feb. 2004. Web. 13 Jun. 2010.

Iweala, Uzodinma. “Colonial Castoff.” Rev. of Fruit of the Lemon, by Andrea Levy. The New York Times Book ReviewFeb. 11, 2007.

James, Cynthia. “‘You’ll Soon Get Used to Our Language’: Language, Parody and West Indian Identity in Andrea Levy’s Small Island.Anthurium 5.1 (2007): n.pag. Freely Accessible Arts and Humanities Journals. Web. 15 Jun. 2010.

Jordison, Sam. “Andrea Levy’s The Long Song Gives the Silent Majority a Compelling Voice.” The Guardian, 15 Dec. 2015.

Kellaway, Kate. “The Long Song by Andrea Levy: A Gift for Comic Timing”. The Observer 7 Feb. 2010. Web. 14 Feb. 2011.

Knepper, Wendy. “Andrea Levy’s Dislocating Narratives.” Andrea Levy. Spec. issue of Entertext: An Interdisciplinary Humanities e-Journal 9 (2012): 1-13. Web. 7 May 2013.

Lang, Andrea. "Reading Race in ​Small Island: Discourse Deviation, Schemata and the Textual Encounter." ​Language and Literature​: 18.3 ((2009): 316-330.

Lawson Welsh, Sarah. “A Table of Plenty”. Representations of Food and Social Order in Caribbean Writing: Some Early Accounts, Caryl Phillip’s Cambridge (1991), and Andrea Levy’s The Long Song (2010). Entertext 10 (2013): 73-89.

Laursen, Ole Birk. “‘Telling Her a Story”: Remembering Trauma in Andrea Levy’s Writing.” Andrea Levy. Spec. issue of EnterText: An Interdisciplinary Humanities e-Journal 9 (2012): 53-68. 

—. “The Mother Country is Calling: Narrating the Second World War in Zadie Smith’s White Teeth and Andrea Levy’s Small Island.” Long Shadows: The Second World War in British Literature and Film, 1943 to the Present. Ed. Petra Utta-Rau. Northwestern University Press, forthcoming.

Levy, Andrea. “Andrea Levy Interviewed by Blake Morrison. Introduced and edited by Deirdre Osborne.” Women: A Cultural Review 20.3 (2009): 325-338.

—. “Every Inch an Englishwoman.” Interview with Jasper Gerard.” The Sunday Times 13 June 2004.

. Every Light in the House Burnin’. London: Headline Review, 1994.

. Fruit of the Lemon. London: Headline Review, 1999.

. “History is the Stories you Tell: Louise Doughty and Andrea Levy in Conversation.” Interview with Eva Ulrike Pirker. The European English Messenger 18:1 (2009): 30-39.

. Interview with Gary Younge. The Guardian 30 Jan. 2010. Web. 2 Jul. 2010.

. Interview with Susan Alice Fischer. Changing English 12.3 (2005): 361-371. Academic Search Complete. Web. 25 Jul. 2010.

. “‘I started to realise what fiction could be. And I thought, wow! You can take on the world.” Interview with Gary Younge. The Guardian 15 Sept. 2010. Web. 13 March 2013.

. “Loose Change.” Underwords. The Hidden City. The London Booktrust London Short Story Competition Anthology. Ed. Maggie Hamand. London: Maia, 2005. 67-76.

. “Made in Britain”. The Guardian 18 Sept. 2004. Web. 29 Feb. 2012.

. Never Far from Nowhere. London: Headline Review, 1996.

. The Long Song. London: Headline Review, 2010.

. Six Stories & an Essay. ​London: Tinder Press, 2014.

. Small Island. 2004. London: Headline Review, 2009.

. “This is my England”. The Guardian 19 Feb. 2000. Web. 30 Jan. 2011.

Lima, Maria Helena. “Andrea Levy.” Dictionary of Literary Biography: Twenty-First-Century ‘Black’ British Writers. Vol. 347. 2009. Literature Resource Centre. Web. 13 Jun. 2010.

. “A Written Song: Andrea Levy’s Neo-Slave Narrative.” Andrea Levy. Spec. issue of EnterText: An Interdisciplinary Humanities e-Journal 9 (2012): 135-53. Web. 15 November 2012.

. “‘Pivoting the Centre.’ The Fiction of Andrea Levy.” Write Black, Write British: From Post Colonial to Black British Literature. Ed. Kadija Sesay. Hertford, England: Hansib, 2005. 56-85.

MacPhee, Graham. “Histories of the Present: Ian McEwan’s Saturday and Andrea Levy’s Small Island.Postwar British Literature and Postcolonial Studies. Edinburgh:Edinburgh University Press. 2011.

Mahadevan, Usha. “England of Andrea Levy’s Small Island: Dreams and Realities.” The Indian Review of World Literature in English 6.1 (2010): 1-9. Web. 5 May 2013.

Marquis, Claudia. “Crossing Over: Postmemory and the Postcolonial Imaginary in Andrea Levy’s Small Island and Fruit of the Lemon”. Andrea Levy. Spec. Issue of EnterText:An Interdisciplinary Humanities e-Journal 9 (2012): 31-52. Web. 28 September 2013.

Murphy, Ann. “Stranger in the Empire: Language and Identity in the ‘Mother Country’”. Andrea Levy. Spec. Issue of EnterText 9 (2012): 122-34. Web. 10 October 2013.

Pérez Fernández, Irene. "Breaking Historical Silence: Emotional Wealth in Joan Anim-Addo's 'Daughter and His Housekeeper' and Andrea Levy' The Long Song." Callaloo, vol. 40 no. 4, 2017, p. 113-126. doi:10.1353/cal.2017.0138

. “Re/mapping London: Gender and Racial Relations in Andrea Levy’s Small Island.” Role of Female Voices in Constructing Fictional Maps of Contemporary Britain. Spec. issue of Interactions: Journal of British and American Studies, vol. 19, 2010, pp. 27-40.

. “Representing Third Spaces, Fluid Identities and Contested Spaces in Contemporary British Literature." Atlantis, vol. 31, no.1, 2009, pp. 143-160.

. "'From Over the Seven Seas the Empire's Sons Came': Addressing Historical Oblivion in Andrea Levy's 'Uriah's War.'" Journal of Postcolonial Writing, vol. 53, 2017, pp. 518-529.

Perfect, Michael. “Fold the Paper and Pass it on: Historical Silences and the Contrapuntual in Andrea Levy’s Fiction.” Journal of Postcolonial Writing 46.1 (2010): 31-41.

Prasad, Raekha. “Two Sides to Every Story.” The Guardian 4 March 1999. Web. June 10 2012.

Pready, Jo. “The Familiar Made Strange: The Relationship between the Home and Identity in Andrea Levy’s Fiction.”  Andrea Levy. Spec. Issue of EnterText 9 (2012): 14-30. Web. 11 October 2013.

Procter, James. “Andrea Levy.” British Council Literature: Writers. 2008. Web. 13  March 2013.

Sáez, Elena Machado. “Bittersweet (Be)longing: Filling the Void of History in Andrea Levy‟s Fruit of the Lemon.” Anthurium 4.1 (2006): n.pag. Web. 5 Feb. 2011.

Scafe, Suzanne. “Unsettling the Centre: Black British Fiction.” The History of British Women Writers. Vol. X, edited by Mary Eagleton and Emma Parker, Palgrave/Macmillan, 2015, pp.  214-228.

Sicher, Efram, and Linda Weinhouse. “Hybridity’s Children: Andrea Levy, Zadie Smith, and Salman Rushdie”. Under Postcolonial Eyes: Figuring the “Jew” in Contemporary British Writing. University of Nebraska Press: 2012. 87-121.

Stuart, Andrea. “The Long Song, by Andrea Levy.” The Independent. 5 Feb. 2010. Web. 14 Mar. 2011.

Tansley, Tangea. “How Andrea Levy Writes West.” Writing From the Shadowlands: How Cross-Cultural Literature Negotiates the Legacy of Edward Said. University of Western Australia. 2004.

Tolan, Fiona. "'I Am The Narrator Of This Work': Narrative Authority In Andrea Levy's The Long Song". Andrea Levy: Contemporary Critical Perspectives, edited by Jeannette Baxter and David James, Bloomsbury, 2014, pp. 95-97.

Toplu, Şebnem. “Home(land) or ‘Motherland’: Translational Identities in Andrea Levy’s Fruit of the Lemon.” Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal. 3.1 (2005): n. pag. Web. 5 Feb. 2011.

. “Transnational Identity Mappings in Andrea Levy’s Fiction”. Growing Up Transnational Identity and Kinship in a Global Era. Eds. May Friedman and Silvia Shultermandl. Toronto, Buffalo, London: University of Toronto Press, 2011. 160-178.

Walters, Tracey. “Black British Women’s and the Politics of Hair.” Diasporic Women’s Writing of the Black Atlantic: (En)Gendering Literature and Performance, edited by Emilia M. Durán-Almarza and Esther Álvarez-López, Routledge, 2014, pp. 60-62.

Image source:; photograph: Laurie Fletcher