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Small Island writer Andrea Levy dies aged 62

Author Andrea Levy has died (Fiona Hanson/PA)
Author Andrea Levy has died (Fiona Hanson/PA)

Author Andrea Levy, whose books included Windrush novel Small Island and The Long Song, has died aged 62 from cancer.

Levy, who was born in London in 1956, did not begin writing until she was in her mid-30s after completing a creative writing course.

It was her fourth novel Small Island, the story of Jamaican immigrants who start a new life in post-war Britain, which made her a big name.

Her publisher Headline said “she had been ill for some time”.

Levy’s long-time editor and publisher of Small Island Jane Morpeth, said: “Her legacy is unique, and her voice will be heard for generations to come. I miss her.”

Headline said Levy’s “novels have perhaps never been more relevant or important in their questioning of identity and belonging”.

She was “widely regarded as the first black British author to achieve both critical and mainstream commercial success”.

Levy’s father had sailed from Jamaica to England on the Empire Windrush and her mother joined him soon after.

Small Island won the Whitbread prize and the Orange Prize For Fiction as well as the Commonwealth Writers’ prize.

Telling the story of Jamaicans and Londoners involved in the Second World War, the 2004 novel was adapted into a BBC drama starring Naomie Harris and Ruth Wilson.

The much-loved work is also being adapted for the stage by the National Theatre.

The author was said to be “very involved” in the production, to debut this spring.

Levy was also known for The Long Song, set in early 19th century-Jamaica during the last years of slavery and the period immediately after emancipation.

The award-winning 2010 novel recently aired as a three-part BBC drama.

The Long Song was her last novel and was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize.

Levy’s other works include Fruit Of The Lemon, Never Far From Nowhere and Every Light In The House Burnin’.

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