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Literary world pays tribute to Andrea Levy

PICTURED: Andrea Levy

THE DEATH of Andrea Levy, the award-winning British author who wrote about the Windrush generation, has rocked the literary world.

Levy, who died from cancer on Thursday, wrote novels which explored the black Jamaican-British experience throughout her 20-year career.

She was born in 1956 to Jamaican parents. Her father came to the UK via the Empire Windrush in 1948 while her mother followed shortly after.

Small Island and The Long Song, two of her most well known books were adapted for TV. David Oyelowo and Benedict Cumberbatch starred in the Small Island TV series that aired on BBC in 2009.

Small Island, Levy’s fourth novel, was critically-acclaimed won her the Whitbread Book of the Year, the Orange Prize and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize.

Sir Lenny Henry starred in the The Long Song, which premiered on BBC One in December last year.

Henry, a member of the National Theatre board, described Levy as funny and said that she “had attitude and was immensely smart” in a post dedicated to her on the National Theatre website.

Journalist and author Gary Younge, whose friendship with Levy spanned two decades, has paid tribute to her in The Guardian.

He wrote: “She was like an older sister to me: protective, encouraging, generous, gently chiding, affectionately mocking, always loving.”

He added: “Andrea wore her ambition openly and her success lightly. She took her craft seriously, but not herself. She wanted her work to be read widely. For most of her literary career, she felt she had to fight for recognition. But with the publication of Small Island came the broader acclaim she had earned and deserved.”

An adaptation of Small Island is set to be staged at the National Theatre this spring.

Reni Eddo-Lodge wrote on Twitter: “I'm so sad to hear of Andrea Levy's death. We've lost a titan of Black British literature. RIP.”

“So sad to hear about the passing of Andrea Levy, who so beautifully told the stories of the Windrush generation and the love, pain and memories that came with them from the West Indies,” Candice Carty-Williams, author of Queenie wrote.

Patrick Vernon, a prominent campaigner for the Windrush generation, said: “Real loss to literary world and a child of Windrush generation. It was a privilege to know her. RIP Andrea.”

Malorie Blackman described Levy as having a “warm, funny and generous spirit”.

Labour MP Diane Abbott, who has campaigned for members of the Windrush generation to receive justice, said: “Incredibly sad to hear of the passing of Andrea Levy. Amongst her many wonderful works, Small Island was such a groundbreaking, definitive book about the post war Caribbean immigrant experience. Her voice will be greatly missed.”

Levy is survived by her husband, Bill Mayblin.

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