Literary Programme 2018

Lara Feigel and Deborah Levy

Lara Feigel and Deborah Levy

Lara Feigel
Deborah Levy

Maritime Hotel

Sat 14 July 2018



Free Woman: Life, Liberation and Doris Lessing asks how might we live more freely, and will we be happier or lonelier if we do? Re-reading The Golden Notebook in her thirties, shortly after Doris Lessing’s death, Lara Feigel discovered that Lessing spoke directly to her as a woman, a writer, and a mother in a way that no other novelist had done. At a time when she was dissatisfied with the conventions of her own life, Lara was enticed by Lessing’s vision of freedom. Free Woman is essential reading for anyone whose life has been changed by books or has questioned the structures by which they live. Lara tells Lessing’s own story, veering between admiration and fury at the choices Lessing made. At the same time, she scrutinises motherhood, marriage and sexual relationships with an unusually acute gaze. And in the process she conducts a dazzling investigation into the joys and costs of sexual, psychological, intellectual and political freedom. This is a genre-defying book: at once a meditation on life and literature and a daring act of self-exposure.

‘Perhaps the most insistent lesson from Free Woman is how little has changed in 50 years, how women are still obliged to negotiate and define our role as lovers, wives, mothers, artists, to keep reclaiming our liberty from definitions that seek to contain us.’ The Observer

‘The most intriguing and certainly the bravest work of literary scholarship I have ever read.’ Deborah Levy

Lara Feigel is a Reader in Modern Literature and Culture at King’s College London. She is the author of Literature, Cinema and Politics, 1930–1945 and the editor (with Alexandra Harris) of Modernism on Sea: Art and Culture at the British Seaside and (with John Sutherland) of the New Selected Journals of Stephen Spender. She has also written journalism for various publications, including the Guardian, Financial Times and Prospect. The Love-charm of Bombs (2013) and her most recent book, The Bitter Taste of Victory (2016), were both published to critical acclaim. Free Woman was published by Bloomsbury in March 2018. Lara lives in West Hampstead, London.  @larafeigel

Witty and ruthlessly honest, The Cost of Living is a unique memoir of writing and womanhood from the twice-Man Booker-shortlisted author Deborah Levy. Picking up where Things I Don’t Want to Know left off, this short, exhilarating memoir shows a writer in radical flux, facing separation and bereavement, and emerging renewed from the ashes of a former life. Faced with the restrictions of conventional living, she dismantles her life, expands it and puts it back together in a new shape. Writing as brilliantly as ever about mothers and daughters, about social pressures and the female experience, Deborah confronts a world not designed to accommodate difficult women and ultimately remakes herself in her own image. The Cost of Living is the second book in Deborah’s three-part ‘living autobiography’ on writing, which began with Things I Don’t Want to Know (2014).

‘An up-to-date version of A Room of One’s Own… I suspect it will be quoted for many years to come.’ Irish Examiner

‘An exciting writer, sharp and shocking as the knives her characters wield.’ Sunday Times

Deborah Levy is a British playwright, novelist and poet. She is the author of six novels: Beautiful Mutants (1986); Swallowing Geography (1993); The Unloved (1994); Billy & Girl (1996); Swimming Home (2011); and Hot Milk (2016). Swimming Home was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012 as well as the Jewish Quarterly Wingate Prize, and Hot Milk was shortlisted in 2016 for both the Man Booker Prize and the Goldsmiths Prize. Deborah is also the author of a collection of short stories, Black Vodka (2013), which was shortlisted for the BBC International Short Story Award and the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. She has written for the Royal Shakespeare Company and the BBC. The Cost of Living is published by Hamish Hamilton in April 2018 and to coincide with this they also re-issued Things I Don’t Want To Know in a new edition.

Lara’s photo is by Johnny Ring and Deborah’s photo is by Sheila Burnett

Lara and Deborah will be in conversation with Sinéad Gleeson. Sinéad’s essays have appeared in Granta, Winter Papers, Gorse, Banshee and Elsewhere Journal. Her debut essay collection, Constellations will be published by Picador in spring 2019. She is the editor of three short story anthologies, including The Long Gaze Back: an Anthology of Irish Women Writers and The Glass Shore: Short Stories by Women Writers from the North of Ireland.