Other Free Encyclopedias » Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern Fiction » Books & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (Ke-Ma)

Levy, Andrea

jamaican life characters book

(Jamaican/British, 1956– )

Levy's 2004 novel Small Island won the Orange Prize. It is a big ambitious book, set in derelict war-scarred London of 1948, but also tracing past lives in England and Jamaica. The central characters are Jamaican RAF man Gilbert, whose humanity and wit in the face of prejudice are utterly endearing; his proud, prudish, baffled wife, Hortense; and their open-hearted landlady Queenie. Levy re-creates a period which feels under-explored in fiction, and scrupulously examines the tangled and contradictory nature of racism, whilst retaining a generous sympathy for all her characters. Both Every Light in the House Burnin’ (1994) and Never Far from Nowhere (1996) are coming-of-age stories; in Never Far from Nowhere, two Jamaican sisters with rather different skin colours have contrasting experiences of life in London in the early 1970s. The painful realities of family life, and the struggle to find one's own identity, are at the heart of the book.

Valerie Martin, Meera Syal, Caryl Phillips. See CARIBBEAN  JR

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