Deborah Levy, writer

Deborah Levy is a writer whose novels Swimming Home and Hot Milk were both shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Last year she published the final instalment of her ‘living autobiography’ trilogy of memoirs, and her earlier work includes plays for the RSC as well as short story collections and poetry.

Deborah was born in South Africa in 1959, the eldest child of anti-apartheid activists Norman and Philippa Levy. Her father was arrested when she was five and was imprisoned for four years. During this time, Deborah became an almost silent child, but was encouraged by a teacher to write down her thoughts, sparking her love of creative writing. After her father’s release, the family relocated to the UK and first lived above a menswear shop in London. As a teenager Deborah worked as a cinema usher, and a chance encounter with the film-maker Derek Jarman inspired her to change her plans to take a degree in literature, and instead she headed to Dartington College of Arts, where she studied writing for the stage and performance.

Her first play, Pax, was commissioned in 1984, and was followed by more than a dozen dramas. Deborah then turned to writing novels in the late 1980s and 1990s. Swimming Home was shortlisted for the 2012 Booker Prize, although it initially struggled to find a publisher. Her trilogy of autobiographies, beginning in 2013 with Things I Don't Want to Know, have enjoyed considerable critical acclaim.

DISC ONE: Nkosi Sikelel I’Afrika by Sol Plaatje
DISC TWO: Starman by David Bowie
DISC THREE: Opening by Phillip Glass
DISC FOUR: Moritat Vom Mackie Messer (German version of Mack the Knife) by Lotte Lenya
DISC FIVE: Black is the Color of my True Love’s Hair by Nina Simone
DISC SIX: Soothing by Laura Marling
DISC SEVEN: Diamonds and Rust by Joan Baez
DISC EIGHT: Because the Night by Patti Smith

BOOK CHOICE: The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious (Collected Works of C. G. Jung)
LUXURY ITEM: A silk sheet
CASTAWAY'S FAVOURITE: Because the Night by Patti Smith

Presenter Lauren Laverne
Producer Sarah Taylor