The Long Song

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The Long Song
The Long Song (Levy novel).jpg
AuthorAndrea Levy
GenreHistorical fiction
Set inJamaica
PublishedFebruary 2010
PublisherHeadline Review
AwardsNotable Book of the Year;
Walter Scott Prize
Preceded bySmall Island 

The Long Song is a historical novel by Andrea Levy published in 2010 that was the recipient of the Walter Scott Prize. It was Levy's fifth novel, following the 2004 publication of Small Island. In December 2018 a three-part television adaptation of the same name was broadcast on BBC One.

Plot summary[edit]

The Long Song is written as a memoir by an elderly Jamaican woman living in early 19th-century Jamaica during the final years of slavery and the transition to freedom that took place thereafter. It tells the tale of a young slave girl, July, who lives at Amity – a sugarcane plantation. She lived through the 1831 Baptist War, and then the beginning of freedom. Her mother, Kitty; the Negroes working the plantation land; and the owner of the plantation, the white woman Caroline Mortimer, are other characters in the novel.[1]


The themes of the book incorporate: how it feels being an immigrant Jamaican, racism, black versus white, landlord versus tenant, slavery and its abolition, slave uprisings, rape, the 1831 Baptist War in Jamaica, the clergy, and love triangles.


Kate Kellaway in The Observer,[2] Tayari Jones in the Washington Post,[3] Fernanda Eberstadt in The New York Times,[4] and Amanda Craig in The Telegraph[5] were among those who gave the novel positive reviews.


The Long Song was a finalist for the 2010 Man Booker Prize. It was the recipient of the 2011 Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction,[6][7][8] with the judging panel saying that "Andrea Levy brings to this story such personal understanding and imaginative depth that her characters leap from the page, with all the resilience, humour and complexity of real people. There are no clichés or stereotypes here. The Long Song is quite simply a celebration of the triumphant human spirit in times of great adversity."[9] The New York Times Book Review named it a Notable Book of the Year.

Television adaptation[edit]

A three-part television adaptation starring Tamara Lawrance, Jack Lowden, Hayley Atwell, and Lenny Henry was filmed in the Dominican Republic, and aired on BBC One in December 2018.[10][11][12][13][14] A TV tie-in edition of the novel was released by Headline Publishing in 2018.[15]


  1. ^ "The Long Song by Andrea Levy". Good Reads. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  2. ^ Kellaway, Kate (7 February 2010). "The Long Song by Andrea Levy". The Observer. London. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  3. ^ Jones, Tayari. "Book review: 'The Long Song,' by Andrea Levy". Washington Post. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  4. ^ Eberstadt, Fernanda. "When Jamaica Lost Its Chains". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  5. ^ Craig, Amanda. "The Long Song by Andrea Levy: review". The Telegraph. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  6. ^ "Overview". Barnes and Noble. Retrieved 12 March 2015.
  7. ^ "Andrea Levy wins Walter Scott Prize for The Long Song", BBC News, 18 June 2011.
  8. ^ Flood, Alison (20 June 2011), "Andrea Levy wins Walter Scott prize", The Guardian.
  9. ^ "Past Winners: 2010 to 20152, The Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction.
  10. ^ "BBC One announces cast for adaptation of Andrea Levy’s The Long Song". BBC. 13 July 2018.
  11. ^ White, Peter. "Hayley Atwell & Tamara Lawrance To Star In David Heyman’s BBC Drama The Long Song". Deadline Hollywood. 12 July 2018.
  12. ^ Munn, Patrick. "Tamara Lawrance & Hayley Atwell Set As Leads In BBC One’s Andrea Levy Adaptation The Long Song". TVWise. 13 July 2018.
  13. ^ "Tamara Lawrance, Haley Atwell, & More to Star in BBC One's The Long Song". Broadway World. 13 July 2018.
  14. ^ Dowell, Ben. "Hayley Atwell, Lenny Henry and Tamara Lawrance cast in new BBC period drama The Long Song". Radio Times. 13 July 2018.
  15. ^ Cowdrey, Katherine (27 September 2018), "BBC adaptation of Levy novel sparks Headline editions", The Bookseller.

Further reading[edit]