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The Long Song: Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010: Shortlisted for the Booker Prize

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Andrea Levy’s bittersweet novel about the last days of slavery in Jamaica is powerful and intimate - and full of mischievous surprise.

This is July’s story; we see her from birth to old age, and she is the narrator of her own past. Passionate, wilful, and determined, she is also richly humorous, and a wily survivor. Separated from her mother as an infant, she learns first how to handle, and then how to manipulate, her mistress Caroline. Jones, Tayari. "Book review: 'The Long Song,' by Andrea Levy". Washington Post . Retrieved 12 March 2015.The Long Song is simultaneously the life-affirming story of one woman’s battle to survive in terrible circumstances, and a tribute to the legions of slaves who did more than suffer and die, but also managed to squeeze all they possibly could out of the bleakest of circumstances.’ Master of Amity Plantation. A depressive, melancholic master, distant and disconnected from those around him, and unsentimental about the slaves he owns. He tends to be contemptuous to his fatuous younger sister Caroline. Godfrey, played by Lenny Henry Speaking on condition that the recording would only be released after her death, Andrea Levy gave an in-depth interview to oral historian Sarah O’Reilly for the British Library’s Authors’ Lives project in 2014. Drawing on this recording, along with comments from friends, family and collaborators, this programme explores Levy’s changing attitude towards her history and her heritage and how it is intimately bound up with her writing.

As a child, Caroline Mortimer takes July away from the plantation fields and her mother, Kitty. She ‘adopts’ her, renaming her Marguerite, and using her as a housemaid. How does the relationship between July and Caroline evolve as the novel progresses? Is Kitty’s life now ‘better’ as a housemaid than as a slave working in the fields? The framing is Jamaican printer-publisher Thomas Kinsman’s attempt to persuade centenarian Miss July to tell her story for his book of slave narratives. Her participation is complicated by a reluctance to accept the term “slavery” and caginess about her personal and working lives, the script alert to present questions of who has the right to relate experience and to what purpose such stories are told. July is a mulatto, the daughter of Scottish overseer Tam Dewar, who raped Kitty, her slave mother. July enjoys giving us alternative accounts of her arrival in the world and Levy revels in storytelling itself, its sheer pliability. The memoir comes to its climax during the 10-day Baptist war in 1831 and the slave uprisings that followed. She makes you understand how chaotic and punitive this moment in history was, as well as liberating. Levy has researched the novel meticulously, but July has no desire to weigh herself down with any historical burden. Instead, she cheekily recommends that we do some homework ourselves but warns against a publication called Conflict and change. A view from the great house of slaves, slavery and the British Empire, observing: "… if you do read it and find your head nodding in agreement at this man's bluster, then away with you – for I no longer wish you as my reader."Andrea Levy was the author of six books, including Small Island, which won the Orange Prize for Fiction, and the Whitbread Book of the Year. Tamara Lawrance, Haley Atwell, & More to Star in BBC One's The Long Song". Broadway World. 13 July 2018. Andrea Levy's Small Island – her fourth novel – has had a glorious career: it not only won the Orange prize, but was voted "Best of the Best" novels ever to win that award. It was an adroit, funny, tender book about a Jamaican immigrant couple, their big-hearted white landlady and her bigoted husband in postwar London and it beautifully described the struggle to survive in a new country. A novel such as Small Island is a hard act to follow, but in her new book Levy has moved into top gear.

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