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Deborah Levy
Deborah Levy

Deborah Levy trained at Dartington College of Arts, leaving in 1981 to write a number of plays, highly acclaimed for their “intellectual rigour, poetic fantasy and visual imagination”. She wrote and published her first novel Beautiful Mutants, when she was 27 years old. The experience of not having to give her words to a director, actors and designer to interpret was so exhilarating, she wrote a few more. Her most recent novel, Swimming Home, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012. Levy has just published Black Vodka: Ten Stories with And Other Stories.

Photo: Jane Thorburn

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Things I Don't Want to Know: Excerpt

Things I Don't Want to Know by Deborah Levy (Notting Hill Editions - 13 June 2013)

Excerpt from pages 72-73.



          As my tears dripped on to Sister Joan’s holy veil, I thought about how she had shaved off her hair which she called her weeds of ignorance. She had told me to say my thoughts out loud but I had tried writing them down instead. Sometimes I showed her what I had written and she always made time to read everything. She said I should have told her I could read and write. Why hadn’t I told her? I said I didn’t know, and she said I shouldn’t be scared of something ‘transcendental’ like reading and writing. She was on to something because there was a part of me that was scared of the power of writing. Transcendental meant ‘beyond’, and if I could write ‘beyond’, whatever that meant, I could escape to somewhere better than where I was now. I was bitten with love for Sister Joan. She had told me that faith was not a rock. God was there one day and gone the next. If that was true, I felt truly sorry for her on the days that she lost God. I searched for the French words for goodbye and when I found them, ‘Au revoir Soeur Jeanne,’ I realised she had the same name as Joan of Arc. For some reason this made me cry even more. My bemused Godmother who hadn’t a clue what was going on snapped open her handbag and took out a scrap of paper.

          ‘Melissa said to give you this.’

          It was a note scribbled in Pitman’s code.

          ‘Goodbye my crackers little chum.’


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