Six Stories and an Essay by Andrea Levy
Published by Tinder Press
23rd October 2014
"None of my books is just about race," Levy has said. "They're about people and history." Her novels have triumphantly given voice to the people and stories that might have slipped through the cracks in history. From Jamaican slave society in the nineteenth century, through post-war immigration into Britain, to the children of migrants growing up in '60s London, her books are acclaimed for skilful storytelling and vivid characters. And her unique voice, unflinching but filled with humour, compassion and wisdom, has made her one of the most significant and exciting contemporary authors.
This collection opens with an essay about how writing has helped Andrea Levy to explore and understand her heritage. She explains the context of each piece within the chronology of her career and finishes with a new story, written to mark the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War in 1914. As with her novels, these stories are at once moving and honest, deft and humane, filled with insight, anger at injustice and her trademark lightness of touch.
I have to admit, I'm not a huge short story fan but as I loved Small Island I thought the very least I could do was to give Six Stories a shot. It is a tiny book - a mere 144 pages long but it's powerful. The stories all have a recurring theme, principally of race and fitting in, and of society and the way that people behave.
These stories are hard hitting, not warm and fuzzy. They make you shudder, and think, and question. They can make you ashamed to be human, to be a part of such a society. They left me saddened, and angry. Yet despite this, I wanted more. Andrea Levy writes with honesty. More should do the same.