Apr. 13, 2011

Renowned British Novelist Andrea Levy on Campus April 29

Andrea Levy

Andrea Levy (Laurie Fletcher photo)

GENESEO, N.Y. -- British novelist Andrea Levy, winner of numerous book awards including the Orange Prize for Fiction in women's writing, will be reading from her latest novel, "The Long Song," and discussing her craft during a visit to SUNY Geneseo April 29. The event starts at 4 p.m. in Newton Hall Room 201 and is free and open to the public.

"The Long Song" was shortlisted for the prestigious Man Booker Prize in 2010 and was in contention for the Orange Prize in 2010. Her fourth novel, "Small Island," won the Orange Prize and the Whitbread Book of the Year Award in 2004 and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 2005.

Set in Jamaica in the early 19th century, "The Long Song" explores the relationship between Great Britain and the Caribbean during the last years of slavery and the period immediately after emancipation. The daughter of Jamaican migrants herself, Levy uses her fiction to rewrite British history to include her ancestors. The Jamaican sugar plantation economy that depended on the labor of enslaved peoples and the 1831 Baptist Wars are seen through the eyes of a former house slave, July, who as an old woman can now look back upon her life and write her story.

"Having Andrea on campus is a wonderful opportunity for upstate New York," said Maria Lima, professor of English at Geneseo who has been teaching Levy's novels before they were earning so many prizes.

About the writing of "The Long Song," Lima reminds her students of the importance of neo-slave narratives. As Levy notes, a novel can succeed in showing young Black Britons why they must "have pride in their slave ancestors and their heritage" ("The Writing of ‘The Long Song'").

Levy lives in London. She not only lives and works in the city she loves but has used London as the setting in many of her novels. She didn't start writing until her mid-thirties when she began to look closely and perceptively at Britain and its changing population and the intimacies that bind British history with the Caribbean.

Levy's visit to Geneseo is sponsored by the Department of English, the Office of the Provost, the Office of International Programs, Campus Auxiliary Services, the Office of Multicultural Programs and Services and the Residence Life office.

Media contact:
David Irwin
Media Relations Manager
(585) 245-5516