So you think you know everything there is to know about Deborah Levy’s Booker nominated novel Swimming Home? Test your knowledge against our GoodReads quiz here!
What’s it about?
Swimming Home is described by the book’s publisher And Other Stories as follows:
As he arrives with his family at the villa in the hills above Nice, Joe sees a body in the swimming pool. But the girl is very much alive. She is Kitty Finch: a self-proclaimed botanist with green-painted fingernails, walking naked out of the water and into the heart of their holiday. Why is she there? What does she want from them all? And why does Joe’s wife allow her to remain?
Swimming Home is a subversive page-turner, a merciless gaze at the insidious harm that depression can have on apparently stable, well-turned-out people. Set in a summer villa, the story is tautly structured, taking place over a single week in which a group of beautiful, flawed tourists in the French Riviera come loose at the seams.
Deborah Levy’s writing combines linguistic virtuosity, technical brilliance and a strong sense of what it means to be alive. Swimming Home represents a new direction for a major writer. In this book, the wildness and the danger are all the more powerful for resting just beneath the surface.
With its biting humour and immediate appeal, it wears its darkness lightly.
Who is Deborah Levy?
According to her official website:
Deborah Levy trained at Dartington College of Arts leaving in 1981 to write a number of plays, highly acclaimed for their “intellectual rigour, poetic fantasy and visual imagination”, including PAX, HERESIES for the Royal Shakespeare Company, CLAM, CALL BLUE JANE, SHINY NYLON, HONEY BABY MIDDLE ENGLAND, PUSHING THE PRINCE INTO DENMARK and MACBETH-FALSE MEMORIES, some of which are published in LEVY: PLAYS 1 (Methuen)
Deborah wrote and published her first novel BEAUTIFUL MUTANTS (Vintage), when she was 27 years old. The experience of not having to give her words to a director, actors and designer to interpret, was so exhilarating, she wrote a few more. These include, SWALLOWING GEOGRAPHY, THE UNLOVED (Vintage) and BILLY and GIRL (Bloomsbury). She has always written across a number of art forms (see Bookworks and Collaborations with visual artists) and was Fellow in Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge from 1989-1991.
What does BookerMarks think of Swimming Home?
Mike (Review): “Swimming Home succeeds in putting mental illness and depression on the table and making us digest its implications.”
Elizabeth (Review): “After reading a number of books on the 2012 Man Booker nomination list, and wondering why in the world they were included, it was refreshing to read one that belongs. Swimming Home is not uplifting. It’s not amusing. It is, however, profound.”
Jackie (Review): “Swimming Home is a very short book. Short on pages, short on characters and short on catching my interest.”
Michelle (Review): “This little novel starts out with a very intriguing first chapter – one that draws the reader in. A chapter that makes you hope for a day at home alone on your favorite reading couch with an icy beverage and a bowl of popcorn to munch.”
Aaron (Review): “Dare I say it’s reminiscent in this regard to another very recent thought-provoking Booker winner?”
Karli (Review): “the prose has consistent moments of poignancy and dark humor.”
Penny (Review): “The cast of characters is widely varied and all are unhinged in some way.”