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

Born in England to Jamaican parents who came to Britain in 1948, Andrea Levy grew up on a council estate in north London before studying textile design at Middlesex University. She did not read a novel until she was 23 years old and came to storytelling via what she had seen on television, rather than what she had read. She wrote novels about what she knew: engaging books that reflect the experiences of Black Britons and the intimacies that bind British history with that of the Caribbean. Her award-winning Small Island was adapted for TV and for the stage. Her novel The Long Song won the Walter Scott Prize and was shortlisted for the 2010 Booker Prize. It, too, was adapted for TV. She died in 2019, aged 62.

Andrea Levy

Slowly I began to realise that I was not in fact writing a novel about slavery. The Long Song is set in the time of slavery, and the years immediately after, but it is really a story about a person’s life, a lost voice from history that needed to be heard.

— Andrea Levy writing on the inspiration behind The Long Song

The Long Song is a novel for those who believe that the story of a single woman is a story of the ages, for those who understand that a slave woman’s history is History, indeed.

— Tayari Jones reviewing The Long Song for The Washington Post in 2010

Watch the trailer for the BBC adaption of The Long Song

Listen to Andrea Levy read The Long Song for Pen America

I wanted there to be joy in this book, fun, as well. I had to tread a fine line. It was never going to be ‘Carry On up the Plantation’, but also I didn’t want it to be just so harrowing that nobody could read it. I wanted a book that everyone could read and everyone could enjoy.

— Andrea Levy speaks to The Scotsman in 2010 after publication of The Long Song

All nominated books

The Long Song