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Swimming Home by Deborah Levy

Swimming Home

Deborah Levy

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Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012.

Swimming Home is a subversive page-turner, a merciless gaze at the insidious harm that depression can have on apparently stable, well-turned-out people. Set in a summer villa, the story is tautly structured, taking place over a single week in which a group of beautiful, flawed tourists in the French Riviera come loose at the seams.

Shortlisted for the Specsavers National Book Awards 'UK Author of the Year' 2012.

A "Piece of Passion" from the publisher on Black Vodka and Swimming Home...
'In Swimming Home, the ripples just keep on spreading. What first captivated me about this novel was its sure-handed concision, which, instead of warding off strangeness, actually created a space where the real strangeness of life was allowed to show. Yet every time I hear from another excited reader, Swimming Home has shown them something else again: the place of foreignness in different characters, where the madness lies and why, who is tied to whom, new talismanic objects and words, brand-new literary connections, hooking the story back into a great history of stories. The further I plumb this slim fiction, the greater depths it reveals.

Which is why Deborah Levy’s new collection, Black Vodka: ten stories, is both a joy and a relief. A joy because that same rare taste for strangeness can be savoured again on every page; a relief because my tightly plotted mental map of Levy’s fathomless world can now open out into a range of new places, new characters and new moods. Many of the stories in Black Vodka obliquely take up themes also in Swimming Home: childhood displacements, psychological connections and disconnections, the burdens of history, the difficulty of staying in love. But they give you new ways of thinking about these things. In a way, Black Vodka allows us to read Levy’s world through a fresh new set of prisms.'

Sophie Lewis, Editor, And Other Stories
31st January 2013

If you like Deborah Levy you might also like to read books by Morgan McCarthy.

Win tickets to 'Hearth' book festival worth £65

Lovereading has teamed up with Gladstone’s Library's Hearth Micro-Festival taking place on 31st October and 1st November to offer two lucky aspiring writers the chance to attend the event’s workshops. Hearth offers book lovers the chance to meet, talk and create with four authors for a weekend of writing-related inspiration, including how to improve writing skills and get published.

The Prize is either a pair of tickets for the Saturday workshops including dinner or a pair of tickets for the Sunday workshops including lunch. Both prizes also include entry to the Saturday evening discussion at 8pm with all four of the Hearth speakers.

The micro-festival ‘Hearth’ is held at Gladstone's Library, Hawarden, in North Wales. The newest addition to the Gladstone's Library calendar and the younger sibling of the annual Gladfest summer literature festival, Hearth began in 2013 and is held in November and February every year. This autumn, Hearth will focus on Welsh writing, although all talks will be in English.

To have a chance of winning one of two pairs of tickets, click below to enter. Please note that this draw is open only for UK residents and is free to enter. Multiple entries from the same email address will only be counted once and the prize does not include transport or accommodation. The draw will close on Sunday 25th October 2015. The winners will be notified on Monday 26th October 2015 and given a choice of event to attend. Please note, if a winner has not responded within 48 hours we will offer the prize to a runner up. Good luck!

To book your tickets, please call 01244 532350 or email Find out more about the festival at

Enter prize draw Draw closes: 25/10/2015


Swimming Home by Deborah Levy

As he arrives with his family at the villa in the hills above Nice, Joe sees a body in the swimming pool. But the girl is very much alive. She is Kitty Finch: a self-proclaimed botanist with green-painted fingernails, walking naked out of the water and into the heart of their holiday. Why is she there? What does she want from them all? And why does Joe's enigmatic wife allow her to remain? Profound and thrilling, Swimming Home reveals how the most devastating secrets are the ones we keep from ourselves.

Sir Peter Stothard, Chair of Man Booker Prize 2012 judging panel, on Swimming Home...

'Swimming Home is Deborah Levy's first novel for more than a decade. It seems simple enough - a holiday villa in France, a pool, bohemian families at play and the young intruder who comes to stay. But this is more than a story of a snake in the grass. Inconvenient truth is etched into Levy’s idyll in subtle, obliquely outlined ways, some of them gently literary, others acid and raw. There is technical artistry, glowing prose, an intimate exposure of loss and a little Gatsby too. Its manner of publication - by subscription of supporters and friends rather than through traditional publishers who turned it down - did not concern us at the time of judging. But it is worth noting now.'


'Deborah Levy's storytelling is allusive, elliptical and disturbing. Her touch is gentle, often funny and always acute - This is a prizewinner.'
Julia Pascal, The Independent

'Swimming Home is a statement on the power of the unsaid. Magisterial - Themes, phrases and images recur in rhythmic cycles through this fugal novel. Levy's cinematic clarity and momentum convey confusion with remarkable lucidity.'
Abigail Deutsch, TLS

'Deborah Levy has made something strange and new - spiky and unsettling. In Swimming Home, home is elusive, safety is unlikely, and the reader closes the book both satisfied and unnerved.'
John Self, The Guardian

'Swimming Home is as sharp as a wasp sting.'
Christina Petrie, Sunday Times

'A compact treasure.'
Boyd Tonkin, in his round-up of the year's best fiction, The Independent

'Dark, sometimes humorous, intriguing and tragic, Levy's tale held me captive from its dramatic beginning
Lucy Popescu, The Tablet

'Levy's strength is her originality of thought and expression.'
Jeanette Winterson

About the Author

Deborah Levy

Deborah Levy writes fiction, plays and poetry. Her work has been staged by the Royal Shakespeare Company, and she is the author of highly praised books including Beautiful Mutants, Swallowing Geography (both Jonathan Cape) and Billy and Girl (Bloomsbury).

Author photo © Sheila Burnett

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Book Info

Publication date

10th September 2012


Deborah Levy

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Faber and Faber


176 pages


Literary Fiction
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