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The Writing of the Long Song

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The writing of The Long Song - by Andrea Levy

The writing of The Long Song is a long story that begins with a single question from a single girl: “How can I be proud of my Jamaican roots, when my ancestors had been slaves?” This question is the British-Jamaican novelist Andrea Levy, got from a young woman at a conference in London. It was a question that gave Levy the challenge, or idea, of her new novel, The Long Song, in which she tries to persuade the readers to be proud of their slave ancestry instead of feeling shame for coming from a lower-class family, which she could not understand. Levy expressedly states how proud she herself is of her Jamaican heritage, “If our ancestors survived the slave ships they were strong. If they survived the plantations they were clever.” (p. 7, l. 16-19). This was something she had learnt from a Jamaican acquaintance of hers. In “The Writing of The Long Song” Andrea Levy expounds her thoughts, ideas and deliberations she made during the writing of her novel. In this she explains the transatlantic slave trade into the bargain.

Even though Levy herself is honoured about her heritage she can relate to the young girls hesitations as Levy’s own parents were at pains to distance themselves from any aspect of their slave descent: “My mum would sooner say her family were slave owners than that they were once slaves.” (p. 8, l. 96-98).
During the making of the novel, Levy ran into some difficulties as she could only find very few surviving documents and artefacts in which the enslaved people have their own voices. She uses fictional novels to give back the voices to those less fortuned that have not before been heard in the historical texts. She explains it as: “I was treading where academics cannot go because of the rigour of their discipline”. (p. 10, l. 260-262).
It could therefore be argued that there are two major themes in…...

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