Thursday, 11 October 2012

Swimming Home - Deborah Levy

Kitty Finch is trouble. A beautiful young woman, suffering from depression, she interrupts a family holiday in a French villa. They find her swimming naked in their pool. A double booking leaves her with nowhere to stay, so the wife of the family invites her to stay on with them. Having decided to stop taking her medication, Kitty is clearly unstable.  Her presence unsettles everyone, from the troubled poet Jozef and his poised war correspondent wife, to their adolescent daughter and the gluttonous friend with a penchant for guns.

The reader soon senses danger, but is only as the story unfolds that we realize who is most at risk.

Levy's writing disorientates the reader, just as Kitty's presence disturbs the protagonists of the story. From the very first lines Levy's prose is perceptive and unsettling:
'When Kitty Finch took her hand off the steering wheel and told him she loved him, he no longer knew if she was threatening him or having a conversation.'
Although it's hard to imagine anything beating Hilary Mantel's Bring up the Bodies to the Booker Prize, Swimming Home, with its Freudian depths, should be a strong contender.

The book is noteworthy too for its unusual publishing history. Funded by subscriptions from readers, the book is published by And Other Stories. You can find out more about the ways in which the readers influence the choice of books at

Deborah Levy is appearing at Lancaster Litfest on Sunday 21st October. You can book tickets here.


  1. This one, and Alison Moore's The Lighthouse, are the two Booker novels I'm intrigued by this year. I'm very glad to know you liked this one, and I clicked through to the publisher. How interesting! I imagine that all sorts of different kinds of publishing will emerge now to keep literary works afloat - I think that's very exciting.

    1. Yes, The Lighthouse has caught my eye too.

      I'm looking forward to finding out more about And Other Stories at Lancaster Litfest next week. Let's hope that such ventures can encourage diversity in the literary world.


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