Book review: Hot Milk

EVERY so often you read a book whose author has so acutely captured the human condition, in all its anxiety-fuelled, confused glory, that it’s almost painful to read — like holding a mirror up to your own, imperfect self.

Deborah Levy

Hamish Hamilton, £12.99; ebook, £9.99

Deborah Levy has done this and yet manages to elicit a sense of catharsis, too — it’s OK, we’re all in the same, leaky lifeboat. 

Her narrator is a 25-year-old, half-Greek, half-Yorkshire anthropology student and barista, named Sofia Papastergiadis, whose father has a new baby with a much younger woman, in Athens, and whose mother, Rose, has a mysterious paralysis of the legs, among other ‘symptoms’.

In just over 200 pages, Levy, who was Booker shortlisted for Swimming Home, deftly deals with the pull-push of mother-daughter bonds, identity, emerging sexuality, and the financial crisis. 

All while expertly evoking the physical — and emotional — sensations Sofia is experiencing. It’s enough to put you in a state of mindfulness.


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