23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Deborah Levy
© Hartwig Klappert

Deborah Levy

Deborah Levy was born in South Africa in 1959. At the age of nine, she emigrated with her family to Britain after her father, a member of the African National Congress, had served a prison sentence for his political activity against the Apartheid regime. In 1981, Deborah Levy completed a BA in Theater at the Dartington College of Arts. She then wrote plays, which were staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company, among other troupes. The dramatist heads a theater group in Cardiff and has written pieces for television and radio.

Levy celebrated her literary debut in 1985 with the short story collection »Ophelia and the Great Idea«. The experience of direct access to her recipients without having to detour through the interpretation of directors, actors, and stage set designers encouraged her to follow with her first novel, »Beautiful Mutants« (1989). In it, Levy deals with the themes of exile and emigration, focusing particularly on how they trigger the feeling of going insane. Reviewers praised the originality of Levy’s surreal world of ideas and her artful linguistic expression. After presenting a poetry volume titled »An Amorous Discourse in the Suburbs of Hell« (1990), in the following years Levy published more novels, including »Swallowing Geography« (1993) and »Billy & Girl« (1999). In 2000, a collection of her theater writings appeared under the title »Plays 1«. The critics already called Levy one of the best English writers of her generation for her »Diary of a Steak« (1998); her novel »Swimming Home« (2010), which made the shortlist for the 2012 Booker Prize, drew international attention. The crisis-ridden marriage of an author and his war-reporter wife who vacation in South France is put to the test not only by their adolescent daughter, but also and especially by a young woman named Kitty, who uses every trick in the book to gain the literary man’s attention not only for her, but also for her poem »Swimming Home«. Levy thereby mercilessly exposes her characters’ fears and longings and at the same time describes them with laconic wit. Her collection of short stories »Black Vodka« (2013) was nominated in 2012 for the BBC’s International Short Story Award.

Levy lives in London.


Ophelia and the Great Idea

Viking Press

New York, 1985

An Amorous Discourse in the Suburbs of Hell

Jonathan Cape

London, 1990

[Ill: Andrzej Borkowski]

Heim schwimmen


Berlin, 2013

[Ü: Richard Barth]

Black Vodka


Berlin, 2014

[Ü: Barbara Schaden]

Was ich nicht wissen will


Berlin, 2015

[Ü: Barbara Schaden]