162pp., paperback, Reprint, London, (2013) 2018.
Deborah Levy was born in Johannesburg in 1959. Her father was a member of the African National Congress and spent time in prison. The family emigrated to the UK in 1968. She is the author of six novels, including Swimming Home and Hot Milk. Things I Don't Want to Know is the first in a three-part autobiography. The second part, The Cost of Living, is also available.
"Starting to read her response was like chancing upon an oasis. The writing is of such quality that you want to drink it in slowly. Orwell said: "Good prose is like a windowpane." He would have approved of Levy, although he might have been surprised by what she sees through the glass. The essay is a mini-memoir that moves between three countries: Mallorca (to which she flies to reflect), South Africa (where she grew up and where her father, an ANC supporter, was imprisoned) and England (where she describes her teenage years as a baffled exile in lime-green platform shoes, in Finchley)...She does not take issue with Orwell (he would admire the way she weaves South African politics into her narrative), but her triumph is to show that the will to write may not always be rational...It gives one – as does everything in this original, dreamy, unmissable essay – pause for thought." Kate Kellaway, The Guardian