- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: Penguin; 01 edition (1 Jun. 2017)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0241968038
- ISBN-13: 978-0241968031
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 139 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,676 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Hot Milk Paperback – 1 Jun 2017
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Unsettling, challenging and gloriously written, Hot Milk by Deborah Levy is the multi-generational story of a hallucinatory sort of summer (Juliet Nicolson, Evening Standard)
Leaves the reader enraptured and unnerved (Jackie Annesley, Evening Standard)
Publisher's description. Shortlisted for the Man Booker and Goldsmiths prizes, a hypnotic tale of female sexuality and power under the scorching midday sun. Sofia and her mother arrive on the Spanish coast looking for answers - what they find there will be strange, seductive and fearsome beyond their wildest dreams. (Penguin)
About the Author
Deborah Levy is a British playwright, novelist and poet. She is the author of six novels: Beautiful Mutants (1986); Swallowing Geography (1993); The Unloved (1994); Billy & Girl (1996); Swimming Home (2011); and Hot Milk (2016). Swimming Home was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012 as well as the Jewish Quarterly Wingate Prize, and Hot Milk was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2016 and the Goldsmiths Prize 2016. Deborah is also the author of a collection of short stories, Black Vodka (2013), which was shortlisted for the BBC International Short Story Award and the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award. She has written for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the BBC.
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"I am overflowing like coffee leaking from a paper cup. I wonder, shall I make myself smaller? Do I have enough space on Earth to make myself less?"
I have read Deborah Levy before, but this is by far my favourite of hers. In the past, I felt her playwright bent would sometimes dictate how she told a story as if she was visualizing it in a staging sort of way. In this novel, the characters have rich and complicated internal lives. The way she writes them had traces of Jeanette Winterson in her earlier works, the always thinking and feeling characters where the plot is secondary. And I mean that as a compliment, since Winterson remains in my top three authors and likely always will. So the style, the narrative, shall we say, really worked for me. The reader is left faced with either filling in the gaps or discovering that "what happens" isn't the point so much as the transformative journey of the inner lives.
"I am pulsating with shifting sexualities.
I am sex on tanned legs in suede platform sandals.
I am urban and educated and currently godless."
Other elements that made me enjoy this novel are the character having a background of anthropology (female anthropologists being a notable trend in several of my favourite reads.) There is something about the approach of anthropology, how it notices, how it attempts to gain an inside perspective, that makes it really work in internal dialogue.
"If anthropology is the study of humankind from its beginning millions of years ago to this day, I am not very good at studying myself. I have researched aboriginal culture, Mayan hieroglyphics and the corporate culture of a Japanese car manufacturer, and I have written essays on the internal logic of various other societies, but I haven't a clue about my own logic. Suddenly that was the best thing that ever happened to me."
I should also mention the impact of the limited landscape of an unpleasant Spanish coastal town (where jellyfish fill the water and factories and concrete line the shore) and the element of an adult child dealing with the real or imagined illness of a parent. She captures the strangeness of a mother who demands attention, even from her child.
"Her symptoms do all the talking for her. They chatter all the time."
"I told her the beach was desolate and that I had been staring for two hours of a pile of gas canisters. It was my special skill to make my day smaller so as to make her day bigger."
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To anyone who has wondered about what they should do with their life, read this book.Read more