The writing of the long song
“How can I be proud of my Jamaican roots, when my ancestors had been slaves”? This question asked by a woman with Jamaican roots followed British novelist Andrea Levy for a long time. She wondered how anyone could be ashamed of his or her legacy and thus the foundation of her book, The Long Song, was laid. However, writing the book was a more difficult task than presumed. Levy considered many things at the preliminary stage of the book as she knew that she didn’t want to write yet another historical novel about slavery. This is the reason why she chose to write the “behind the scenes”-essay, The Writing of The Long Song. Herein she elaborates and discusses the process of writing her book and raises important
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The interrelationship between historical events and narratives is elaborated and discussed. “Little writing or testimony has emerged that was not filtered at the time through a white understanding or serving a white narrative […] This is where I believe that fiction comes into its own. Writing fiction is a way of putting back the voices that were left out.” (p. 8, ll. 123-126, 130-133). While contrasting the two Levy continuously proclaims that her wish is to portray a narrative that in turns portrays a historical event. She makes it her most important task to convince the woman, as well as her own parents, that they shouldn’t be ashamed of their ancestry. “[…] the truth is that the story of the Caribbean cannot ultimately be divided into “black” and “white” or African and European, just as slavery cannot be filleted out of three hundred years of British history” (p. 10, ll. 288-293). She ends her essay saying that The Long Song is her tribute to people who survived the slavery. She wishes the novel to be an inspiration as well being her answer to the woman from the conference, “[…] our slave ancestors were much more than a mute and wretched mass of victims […] These were people who needed strength, talent, guile and humour just to survive” (p. 11, l. 326-332).
Levy draws attention to multiple relevant problems in the modern day society. Her use of a humoristic yet simple and down