By Deborah Levy
Publication Date: 11/7/2023
In this brilliant, inventive, tragic farce, Deborah Levy creates the ultimate dysfunctional kids, Billy and his sister Girl. Apparently abandoned years ago by their parents, they now live alone somewhere in England. Girl spends much of her time trying to find their mother, going to strangers' doors and addressing whatever Prozac woman who answers as "Mom." Billy spends his time fantasizing a future in which he will be famous, perhaps in the United States as a movie star, or as a psychiatrist, or as a doctor to blondes with breast enlargements, or as the author of "Billy England's Book of Pain." Together they both support and torture each other, barely able to remember their pasts but intent on forging a future that will bring them happiness and reunite them with the ever-elusive Mom. Billy and Girl are every boy and girl reeling from the pain of their childhoods, forgetting what they need to forget, inventing worlds they think will be better, but usually just prolonging nightmares as they begin to create--or so it seems--alternative personalities that will allow them to survive and conquer and punish. In the end, the reader is as bewildered as Billy and Girl--have they found Mom and a semblance of family, or are, they completely out of control and ready to explode?
“The world according to Deborah Levy is like an emotionally charged dream or joke” – London Review of Books
Deborah Levy writes fiction, plays, and poetry. Her work has been staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and she is the author of highly praised books including The Unloved, Swallowing Geography, and Beautiful Mutants. Her novel Swimming Home was shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize, 2012 Specsavers National Book awards, and 2013 Jewish Quarterly Wingate Prize. Her recent short story collection, Black Vodka, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4. Things I Don’t Want to Know is the title of Levy’s sparkling response to George Orwell’s essay ‘Why I Write’, an autobiographical essay on writing, gender politics and philosophy. Her collection of poetry, An Amorous Discourse in The Suburbs of Hell, was inspired by William Blake’s vision of angels perched in a tree on Peckham Common.