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Deborah Levy interview

Deborah Levy interview

Deborah Levy describes how it became necessary to speedily print more copies of Hot Milk after making the longlist and how the Medusa myth is very much alive in the modern world.

This is the first in our series of Man Booker Prize 2016 longlisted author interviews.


What has it been like to be longlisted?  

It became necessary to speedily print more copies of Hot Milk. I am proud to be part of such an excellent longlist.

What are you working on next?

My next novel will be set three days before the Berlin Wall comes down. It will then make its way through the snow to the twenty first century.

What are you reading at the moment?

The Wall Jumper by Peter Schneider.

What is your favourite Man Booker-winning novel?

Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey.

Medusathe myth and the jellyfish of that name – are a feature of Hot Milk, what is the fascination of Medusa for you?

The ambiguous Medusa myth has long been debated by both ancients and moderns - from Ovid to Cixous. It is there to be interpreted and re-told, especially if a jellyfish is named after her and happens to be floating in the sea while we swim. It is a story that ends with a beheading: separating the head of a woman (the mind, subjectivity) from her body – as if its potency is too threatening. I also put the Medusa to work as a way of exploring the strong and unwelcome emotions that can make us feel monstrous to ourselves. Medusa is a woman/monster with a petrifying gaze. Yet, we are familiar with the expression, ‘if looks could kill’, and I am guessing that men and women have both received and given that sort of look? The subtle, delicate politics and psychology of the Medusa myth, is very much alive in the modern world. At its most simplistic, Medusa is a story about transformation. I give that most difficult task to Sofia to work with in Hot Milk.   

Deborah Levy