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Recommended to you by the librarians of the Société de Lecture

Deborah LEVY, Living Autobiography

Things I Don’t Want to Know LM 3167/1, The Cost of Living LM 3167/2, Real Estate LM 3167/3

“What do we do with knowledge that we cannot bear to live with? What do we do with the things we do not want to know?” Deborah Levy was born in South Africa. Her father, a member of the African National Congress, was imprisoned four years before the family fled to the United Kingdom. Levy grew up in London, became an English citizen after her parents’ marriage collapsed; she belongs to “part of the trail of writers who had made the long journey from their country of birth to somewhere else”. After the success of her novels (Swimming Home, Hot Milk…) she embarked on the writing of her Living Autobiography trilogy. The first book takes George Orwell’s essay “Why I Write” as starting point to her reflections on her past, on writing and womanhood. In the second book, Levy’s twenty-three-year old marriage has disintegrated and she has moved with her daughters to a shabby apartment block in North London with “a ticket to head towards a freer life”. She asks: “What is a woman for? What should a woman be?” She finds a friend’s old shed to work in and buys an electric bicycle. “In a sense it was the main character in my life”: empowering, exhilarating… The third book considers the house in which to live, to work, and the home: the real and unreal estate one must build for oneself. “The point of thinking is that it will always muddy the water. So how do we live with our free thoughts and the mud?” Levy, with acute intelligence, imagination and openness, and without prejudice, is thinking out loud. “Who is she? That is the question I was starting to ask in all my books. Not who am I…” Her words resonate strongly.

Deborah Levy will be at the Société de Lecture on the 29th of May.





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  • Limit of 8 books per person at one time
  • Loan period: 15 days (new books) or 1 month (general collection).
  • Extensions can be requested by email at or by phone : 022 310 67 46
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  • Books sent by post on request (at the member’s expense)


Connecting readers with the library:

the Reading Committee

The Société de Lecture is exceptional in many ways, including how it selects new books – a responsibility that, for many decades, has been entrusted to a Reading Committee of 12 to 15 members of the Société. Each committee member reads three to five books per month, and writes short critical reviews of each one, before collectively deciding which ones to purchase for the library. Around 30 of these reviews are published in each issue of our monthly magazine, Plume au Vent. This group of dedicated volunteers find time in their busy schedules to perform this demanding task, with equal parts enthusiasm and modesty.

Reading Committee members:

Christian Buenzod (Chairman), Bruno Desgardins, Pascale Dhombres, Jacques-Simon Eggly, Catherine Fauchier-Magnan, Fadiah Haller-Assaad, Tatiana Hervieu-Causse, Hélène Leibkutsch, Sharon Mordasini, Soussan Raadi-Djalili, Jean-Bernard Rondeau, Petr Shmatenko, Dominique Thouvenin and our librarians Maxime Canals, Christiane Bernadac and Marie Merminod