Hot Milk

This novel by Deborah Levy was shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize.

Deborah Levy

(Penguin Canada)

Two women arrive in a Spanish village — a dreamlike place caught between the desert and the ocean — seeking medical advice and salvation. One of the strangers suffers from a mysterious illness: spontaneous paralysis confines her to a wheelchair, her legs unusable. The other, her daughter Sofia, has spent years playing the reluctant detective in this mystery, struggling to understand her mother's illness. 

Surrounded by the oppressive desert heat and the mesmerising figures who move through it, Sofia waits while her mother undergoes the strange programme of treatments invented by Dr. Gomez. Searching for a cure to a defiant and quite possibly imagined disease, ever more entangled in the seductive, mercurial games of those around her, Sofia finally comes to confront and reconcile the disparate fragments of her identity.

Hot Milk is a labyrinth of violent desires, primal impulses, and surreally persuasive internal logic. Examining female rage and sexuality, Deborah Levy's dazzling new novel explores the strange and monstrous nature of motherhood, testing the bonds of parent and child to breaking point.(From Hamish Hamilton)

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From the book

Today I dropped my laptop on the concrete floor of a bar built on the beach. It was tucked under my arm and slid out of its black rubber sheath (designed like an envelope), landing screen side down. The digital page is now shattered but at least it still works. My laptop has all my life in it and knows more about me than anyone else.

So what I am saying is that if it is broken, so am I.

From Hot Milk by Deborah Levy ©2016. Published by Hamish Hamilton.

More about this book

Our columnist Jen Sookfong Lee knows her way around a tangled domestic scene, she's written about that situation in her novels including her latest, The Conjoined. Jen talks about what "The Couple Next Door" and "Hot Milk" have in common. 10:09