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A little more than halfway through Deborah Levy’s hypnotic novel, Hot Milk, its narrator, Sofia, throws a vase on the floor. She is in a rented beach house with her mother, Rose, in southern Spain – but if this sounds like a holiday, it’s not. Rose has remortgaged her flat to come here, to a mysterious clinic run by a man called Gómez: perhaps Gómez can cure the mysterious paralysis that confines Rose to a wheelchair and binds her daughter to her with chains of control and dependency. But there is no cure here – only strange pronouncements from a doctor who may very well be a quack; a chained Alsatian on the beach that won’t stop barking; the relentless sun and a sea full of poisonous jellyfish. Hot Milk is a powerful novel of the interior life, which Levy creates with a vividness that recalls Virginia Woolf. The sense of Sofia’s life with her mother (or against her mother) is built through an accumulation of detail, a constellation of symbols and narrative bursts. But like a medusa, this novel has a transfixing gaze and a terrible sting that burns long after the final page is turned.

Under the unblinking glare of the desert sun, mother and daughter strain at the ragged boundaries of their relationship, testing the bonds of kinship to breaking point. Intoxicating and compulsively readable, Hot Milk unspools a hypnotic tale of female rage and sexuality, of myths and timeless monsters.

 Critical acclaim for Hot Milk

 “Astute, poetic and wise, Hot Milk confirms Deborah Levy's reputation as a master of the contemporary psychological novel.”(Darian Leader)

“ intense, sun-drenched story. The prose veers dizzily between the poetic and the convoluted, spreading a hallucinatory patina of weirdness over everything. This is a writer for whom ordinary language just will not do.” (The Times)

“An extraordinary novel, beautifully rich, vividly atmospheric and psychologically complex. Every woman should read it.”(Bernardine Evaristo, author of MR LOVERMAN)

“So mesmerising that reading it is to be under a spell...Sex suffuses the novel, with pleasure frequently crossing into pain.” (Independent on Sunday)

“A smart, seductive and utterly beguiling read (Mail on Sunday) Elegant and deeply strange [and] hummingly funny throughout.” (Spectator)

The Author

Deborah Levy was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, the granddaughter of Lithuanian immigrants. Her father, Norman Levy, was a member of the African National Congress and an academic and historian. Her mother was Philippa (née Murrell). The family emigrated to London in 1968, initially living in Wembley before moving to Petts Wood. Her parents divorced in 1974. She studied theatre at Dartington College of Arts. She was a Creative Arts Fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, between 1989 and 1991

She was educated at St Saviour’s and St Olave’s School, Southwark, and then at Hampstead School. She then trained at Dartington College of Arts, which she was inspired to attend by Derek Jarman, whom she met while working as an usher at Notting Hill's Gate Cinema.

She is a regular contributor of articles and reviews to newspapers and magazines including The Independent, The Guardian and the New Statesman. Formerly director and writer for MANACT Theatre Company, Cardiff, Deborah Levy's plays include Pax (1984); Heresies: Eva and Moses (1985), written for the Royal Shakespeare Company; Clam (1985); The B File (1993); and Honey Baby (1995). She is also the author of a libretto adapted from Federico Garcia Lorca's play Blood Wedding. A collection of her plays, Plays: 1 was published in 2000.

She is also the author of three collections of short stories: Ophelia and the Great Idea (1989); Pillow Talk in Europe And Other Places (2004); and Black Vodka (2013). The latter was shortlisted for the International Frank O’Connor Award.

An Amorous Discourse in the Suburbs of Hell, a collection of poems, was published in 1990, and she wrote the screenplay for a short film Suburban Psycho, televised by the BBC in 1998. Levy also adapted Carol Shield's novel, Unless, and Chance Acquaintances by Colette, for BBC Radio 4. Deborah Levy is also the author of seven novels: Beautiful Mutants (1989); Swallowing Geography (1993); The Unloved (1994); Diary of a Steak (1997); Billy & Girl (1999); Swimming Home (2011); and Hot Milk (2016). She has been shortlisted twice for the Booker Prize, in 2012 and 2016.

Levy’s autobiographical essay on writing, Things I Don't Want to Know, a response to the essay of the same title by George Orwell, was published by Notting Hill Editions in 2013 and in paperback by Penguin in 2014. She has more recently written a sequel, The Cost of Living.

Book Details

Available in paperback – 224 pages

Publisher: Penguin Book Ltd

ISBN: 9780241968031

Also available to download in in Audible