Londoner Andrea Levy was born in 1956 to Jamaican parents – in 1946 her father had sailed to Britain from the Caribbean on the Empire Windrush ship.
After taking evening courses, Levy began to write when she was in her mid-thirties, and her experience growing up as a black Briton in a still-predominantly white culture became the pervading concern of her novels.
After her first books, Every Light in the House Burnin’ (1994), Never Far from Nowhere (1996) and Fruit of the Lemon (1999), Levy’s fourth novel, Small Island achieved widespread acclaim when it was published in 2004, winning several prizes, including the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Whitbread Novel Award. Her latest novel, The Long Song goes back to 19th Century Jamaica during the last days of slavery.
Levy talks with Razia Iqbal about how she began writing and found her subject matter; and how she tackled the painful topic of slavery in her latest book.