Andrea Levy, 1952-2019

February 15, 2019 | Book Buzz

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Although she became an award-winning novelist, Andrea Levy was not a reader as a child. "Being a working-class girl," she told The Guardian, "I watched telly."

Levy was born in 1952 in London to Jamaican immigrant parents who were part of the Windrush generation--West Indians who emigrated to the United Kingdom after World War II. She wrote that the racism she experienced in childhood was "rarely violent or extreme but it was insidious and ever-present and it had a profound effect on me." Although she responded initially by distancing herself from her Jamaican roots and acting "as British as I could be", she was forced to confront her race during a workshop and began exploring the lives of people of colour through her writing. Levy's first novel, Every Light in the House Burnin' was praised for its humour and for drawing attention to a part of the community that was rarely seen in literature. Her most acclaimed novel, Small Island told the story of a Jamaican couple, not unlike her own parents, and the problems they faced when they settled in Britain. It was the winner of the Orange Prize, Whitbread Book of the Year and Commonwealth Prize. 

Every light in the house

Every Light in the House Burnin'

Fruit of the lemon

Fruit of the Lemon

Long song

The Long Song

Never far from nowhere

Never Far from Nowhere

Six stories and an essay

Six Stories and an Essay 

Small island

Small Island

Andrea Levy died on February 14, 2019 of breast cancer. She was 62.