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Small Island

A Novel

Andrea Levy

Picador

Small Island is an international bestseller.  It won the Orange Prize for Fiction, The Orange Prize for Fiction: Best of the Best, The Whitbread Novel Award, The Whitbread Book of the Year Award, and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize.  It has now been adapted for the screen as a coproduction of the BBC and Masterpiece/WGBH Boston.

Hortense Joseph arrives in London from Jamaica in 1948 with her life in her suitcase, her heart broken, her resolve intact. Her husband, Gilbert Joseph, returns from the war expecting to be received as a hero, but finds his status as a black man in Britain to be second class. His white landlady, Queenie, raised as a farmer's daughter, befriends Gilbert, and later Hortense, with innocence and courage, until the unexpected arrival of her husband, Bernard, who returns from combat with issues of his own to resolve.  Told in these four voices, Small Island is a courageous novel of tender emotion and sparkling wit, of crossings taken and passages lost, of shattering compassion and of reckless optimism in the face of insurmountable barriers---in short, an encapsulation of that most American of experiences: the immigrant's life.


BOOK EXCERPTS

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Small Island
1948OneHortense It brought it all back to me. Celia Langley. Celia Langley standing in front of me, her hands on her hips and her head in a cloud. And she is saying: ‘Oh, Hortense, when I am older …’ all her dreaming began with ‘when I am older’ ‘ … when I am older, Hortense, I will be leaving Jamaica and I will be going to live in England.’ This is when her voice became high-class and her nose point into the air – well, as far as her round flat nose could – and she swayed as she brought the picture to her mind’s
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REVIEWS

Praise for Small Island

"It's all here: exceptional dialogue, clever narrative, and a rich story that tells us something new about our shared history on a planet that is increasingly small and yet will always be inhabited by individuals possessed, at our best, by singular consciousness and desire."--Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
 
"There is a great skill in the way she presents characters and dialogue; she has powers of observation and an ear for language that make her books a pleasure to read."--Times Literary Supplement (UK)
 
"Andrea Levy gives us a new, urgent take on our past."--Vogue
 
"A perfectly crafted tale of crossed lives and oceans . . . Happily, the hype is warranted--Small Island is a triumph."--San Francisco Chronicle
 
"Andrea Levy's beautifully wrought novel is a window into 1948 England. . . . A bristling, funny, angry tale of love and sacrifice."--Entertainment Weekly
 
"Levy tells a good story, and she tells it well--using narrative voices across time and space as she revisits the conventions of the historical novel and imagines the hopes and pains of the immigrant's saga anew."--The Washington Post
 
"Familiar cultural observations in closely observed and surprising lives . . . Levy's writing deftly illuminates the complex and contradictory motives behind each character's behavior."--The New Yorker

Reviews from Goodreads

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • Andrea Levy

  • Born in 1956 to Jamaican parents, Andrea Levy is the author of three previous novels and has received a British Arts Council Writers Award in addition to the Orange Prize and Whitbread distinctions. She lives and works in London.
  • Andrea Levy ©Laurie Fletcher
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    Available Formats and Book Details

    Small Island

    A Novel

    Andrea Levy

    Whitbread Book Award - Winner, Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction - Winner, National Book Critics Circle Awards - Nominee

    BOOKS FOR COURSES AVAILABLE

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    FROM THE PUBLISHER

    Picador

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