Real Estate (Hamish Hamilton) by Deborah Levy has been named Hay Festival Book of the Year 2021, after hundreds of readers nominated the "compulsively readable narrative" online as their favourite pick.
The final instalment in Levy’s Living Autobiography, Real Estate, follows Things I Don't Want to Know and The Cost of Living (both published by Hamish Hamilton), and focuses on "the ambiguities associated with the phrase ‘female property'’", according to the synopsis.
Gareth Howell-Jones, bookshop manager at Hay Festival, said of the book: “Blending personal history, gender politics, philosophy, and literary theory, Real Estate is a compulsively readable narrative and a favourite among festival-goers this year. The book was a bestseller at our spring event and we are delighted to celebrate it as our title of 2021.”
Levy is the author of seven novels, including Hot Milk (Hamish Hamilton) and Swimming Home (And Other Stories), both of which were shortlisted for the Booker Prize as well as short stories and dramatisations.
The Book of the Year announcement comes on the eve of the Hay Festival Winter Weekend, the organisation's first ticketed, in-person event in the UK for two years. Held over five days from 24th to 28th November, more than 80 writers and performers will take part, including Kit de Waal, Elizabeth Day, Onjali Q Raúf, Jeanette Winterson and Rob Biddulph. Interactive events for families and young people over the weekend include conversations, readings and workshops.
Headliners sharing their life stories include actor Miriam Margolyes presenting her memoir This Much Is True (Hodder & Stoughton); local Oscar-winning writer, director and actress Emerald Fennell discussing her latest work; journalist and broadcaster Anita Rani talking about The Right Sort of Girl (Bonnier); and John Barnes discussing racism in sport among others.
The event will take place at the festival's new site in the centre of Hay-on-Wye, featuring a bookshop hosting in-person signings. Activities will also take place around the town.
Hay Festival Winter Weekend is supported by festival lead sponsors Visit Wales and Baillie Gifford. The free Programme for Schools and Beacons Project are funded by the Welsh government and Hay Festival Foundation.
Levy’s Hay Festival 2021 conversation with Lisa Appignanesi about the book can be viewed free online now.
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