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Small Island by Andrea Levy
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Feb 05, 2009

Levy, the child of parents who sailed from the Caribbean in the first wave of postwar immigration, fictionalizes the immigrant experience in her fourth novel. Relying on memoirs and oral histories, she describes in heartwrenching detail the lives of four individuals in 1948 England. Her plain, humorous style underscores the gravity and immediacy of her themes. She pens deep, convincing characters-Queenie speaks like a true Londoner; Bernard sounds like he served in India. The couples' interactions are often predictable-Levy "manoeuvred her characters into the right place at the right time"-and the range of viewpoints sometimes disorients. Yet, these flaws barely diminish the power of this frank representation of the racism and disappointment of the era. "This is," The Guardian concludes, "Andrea Levy's big book."

This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine.


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message 1: by Ruth (new)

Ruth Mcdermott Hi there Bookmarks

Would you like to put a question to Andrea Levy herself about Small Island? BBC World Book Club is interviewing her on Tuesday 8th December and would love to hear from you. If you could email me at as soon as you can with your question about the book (anything - doesn't have to be particularly clever!), we can either arrange for you to talk to the woman herself, or have our presenter put your question to Andrea for you. Then you get to hear your question on World Service Radio! Please get in touch soonest, including where you are in the world.

Thanks, and all the best.

Ruth McDermott, BBC World Book Club

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