Small Island

Small Island

By Andrea Levy

Picador USA, Paperback, 9780312429522, 441pp.

Publication Date: March 30, 2010


"Small Island" is an international bestseller. It won the Orange Prize for Fiction, The Orange Prize for Fiction: Best of the Best, The Whitbread Novel Award, The Whitbread Book of the Year Award, and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize. It has now been adapted for the screen as a coproduction of the BBC and Masterpiece/WGBH Boston.

Hortense Joseph arrives in London from Jamaica in 1948 with her life in her suitcase, her heart broken, her resolve intact. Her husband, Gilbert Joseph, returns from the war expecting to be received as a hero, but finds his status as a black man in Britain to be second class. His white landlady, Queenie, raised as a farmer's daughter, befriends Gilbert, and later Hortense, with innocence and courage, until the unexpected arrival of her husband, Bernard, who returns from combat with issues of his own to resolve.

Told in these four voices, "Small Island "is a courageous novel of tender emotion and sparkling wit, of crossings taken and passages lost, of shattering compassion and of reckless optimism in the face of insurmountable barriers---in short, an encapsulation of that most American of experiences: the immigrant's life.

About the Author
Andrea Levy was born in England to Jamaican parents. Her fourth novel, "Small Island", won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award, the Orange Prize for Fiction: Best of the Best, and the Commonwealth Writer's Prize. The television adaptation of her novel won an International Emmy for best TV movie/miniseries. She is also the author of "The Long Song", shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and "Fruit of the Lemon", among others. She lives in London.

Praise For Small Island

"It's all here: exceptional dialogue, clever narrative, and a rich story that tells us something new about our shared history on a planet that is increasingly small and yet will always be inhabited by individuals possessed, at our best, by singular consciousness and desire."--Star Tribune (Minneapolis) "There is a great skill in the way she presents characters and dialogue; she has powers of observation and an ear for language that make her books a pleasure to read."--Times Literary Supplement (UK) "Andrea Levy gives us a new, urgent take on our past."--Vogue "A perfectly crafted tale of crossed lives and oceans . . . Happily, the hype is warranted--Small Island is a triumph."--San Francisco Chronicle "Andrea Levy's beautifully wrought novel is a window into 1948 England. . . . A bristling, funny, angry tale of love and sacrifice."--Entertainment Weekly "Levy tells a good story, and she tells it well--using narrative voices across time and space as she revisits the conventions of the historical novel and imagines the hopes and pains of the immigrant's saga anew."--The Washington Post "Familiar cultural observations in closely observed and surprising lives . . . Levy's writing deftly illuminates the complex and contradictory motives behind each character's behavior."--The New Yorker