Hot Milk book cover
Irene Kacandes, The Dartmouth Professor of German Studies and Comparative Literature

Shortlisted for the 2016 Man Booker Prize, Hot Milk by Deborah Levy, pulls a reader right in. And in the case of this reader, did not let go its grasp until many days after I’d finished the last page. The plot concerns Sofia, a young anthropologist with an absent Greek father and a hypochondriac British mother. Sofia has been assisting with her mother’s care for years, and most of the action takes place in Spain, where the pair have gone to see yet another famous consultant. The coastal setting; the cast of eccentric locals and ex-pats populating the space; and the mysterious bonds that hold mother and adult daughter together while simultaneously nourishing their repulsion are all of such an originality that I can’t compare this novel to anything else I’ve read. In technical terms, there’s an extreme adherence to the perspective of Sofia, and yet there are brief interjections of some other consciousness. Don’t get me wrong, this is an “easy” read. All the enigmas make you want to turn the page and keep going. Levy’s prose is beautiful and one to simply read and enjoy. Still, if you like pondering what makes people tick, you need to put this on your “to read” list.