Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism #1 Book of the Year from Brain Pickings Named a best book of the year by NPR, Newsweek, Slate, Pop Sugar, Marie Claire, Elle, Publishers Weekly, and Lit Hub A dazzling work of biography, memoir, and cultural criticism on the subject of loneliness, told through the lives of iconic artists, by the acclaimed author of The Trip to Echo Spring. When Olivia Laing moved to New York City in her midthirties, she found herself inhabiting loneliness on a daily basis. Increasingly fascinated by the most shameful of experiences, she began to explore the lonely city by way of art. Moving from Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks to Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules, from Henry Darger’s hoarding to David Wojnarowicz’s AIDS activism, Laing conducts an electric, dazzling investigation into what it means to be alone, illuminating not only the causes of loneliness but also how it might be resisted and redeemed. Humane, provocative, and moving, The Lonely City is a celebration of a strange and lovely state, adrift from the larger continent of human experience, but intrinsic to the very act of being alive.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2016 GORDON BURN PRIZE CHOSEN AS 'BOOK OF THE YEAR' BY Observer Guardian Telegraph Irish Times New Statesman Times Literary Supplement Herald When Olivia Laing moved to New York City in her mid-thirties, she found herself inhabiting loneliness on a daily basis. Increasingly fascinated by this most shameful of experiences, she began to explore the lonely city by way of art. Moving fluidly between the works and lives of some of the city's most compelling artists, Laing conducts an electric, dazzling investigation into what it means to be alone, illuminating not only the causes of loneliness but also how it might be resisted and redeemed.
"You can be lonely anywhere, but there is a particular flavor to the loneliness that comes from living in a city, surrounded by thousands of strangers. The Lonely City is a roving cultural history of urban loneliness, centered on the ultimate city: Manhattan, that teeming island of gneiss, concrete, and glass. What does it mean to be lonely? How do we live, if we're not intimately involved with another human being? How do we connect with other people, particularly if our sexuality or physical body is considered deviant or damaged? Does technology draw us closer together or trap us behind screens? Olivia Laing explores these questions by travelling deep into the work and lives of some of the century's most original artists, among them Andy Warhol, David Wojnarowicz, Edward Hopper, Henry Darger and Klaus Nomi. Part memoir, part biography, part dazzling work of cultural criticism, The Lonely City is not just a map, but a celebration of the state of loneliness. It's a voyage out to a strange and sometimes lovely island, adrift from the larger continent of human experience, but visited by many - millions, say - of souls"--
Shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Biography Award. Why were so many authors of the greatest works of literature consumed by alcoholism? In The Trip to Echo Spring, Olivia Laing takes a journey across America, examining the links between creativity and drink in the work and lives of six extraordinary men: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, John Berryman, John Cheever and Raymond Carver. Beautiful, captivating and original, The Trip to Echo Spring strips away the myth of the alcoholic writer to reveal the terrible price creativity can exert.
An author’s walk “from source to sea along the Ouse in Sussex is a meandering, meditative delight” drawing on history, literature, and the river itself (The Guardian, UK). In To The River, author Olivia Laing embarks on a weeklong, midsummer odyssey along the banks of the River Ouse in Sussex, England, from its source near Haywards Heath to the sea, where it empties into the Channel at Newhaven. More than sixty years after Virginia Woolf drowned herself in the River Ouse, Laing still finds inspiration and guidance in the author’s abiding presence. Through cow pastures, woods, and neighborhood streets, Laing’s meandering walk occasions a profound and haunting reflection on histories both personal and cultural, and on landscapes both physical and emotional. Along the way, she explores the roles that rivers play in human lives, tracing their intricate flow through literature, mythology and folklore. Lyrical and stirring, To the River is a passionate investigation into how history resides in a landscape - and how ghosts never quite leave the places they love. “Magical…By turns lyrical, melancholic and exultant, To the River just makes you want to follow Olivia Laing all the way to the sea.”—Daily Telegraph, UK
"One of the finest writers of the new nonfiction" (Harper’s Bazaar) explores the role of art in our tumultuous modern era. In this remarkable, inspiring collection of essays, acclaimed writer and critic Olivia Laing makes a brilliant case for why art matters, especially in the turbulent political weather of the twenty-first century. Funny Weather brings together a career’s worth of Laing’s writing about art and culture, examining their role in our political and emotional lives. She profiles Jean-Michel Basquiat and Georgia O’Keeffe, reads Maggie Nelson and Sally Rooney, writes love letters to David Bowie and Freddie Mercury, and explores loneliness and technology, women and alcohol, sex and the body. With characteristic originality and compassion, she celebrates art as a force of resistance and repair, an antidote to a frightening political time. We’re often told that art can’t change anything. Laing argues that it can. Art changes how we see the world. It makes plain inequalities and it offers fertile new ways of living.
A New York Times Notable, Washington Post, NPR, Guardian, and Bustle Best Book of 2018 A brilliant, funny, and emphatically raw novel of love on the brink of the apocalypse, from the acclaimed author of The Lonely City. "She had no idea what to do with love, she experienced it as invasion, as the prelude to loss and pain, she really didn’t have a clue." Kathy is a writer. Kathy is getting married. It’s the summer of 2017 and the whole world is falling apart. Fast-paced and frantic, Crudo unfolds in real time from the full-throttle perspective of a commitment-phobic artist who may or may not be Kathy Acker. From a Tuscan hotel for the superrich to a Brexit-paralyzed United Kingdom, Kathy spends the first summer of her forties adjusting to the idea of a lifelong commitment. But it’s not only Kathy who’s changing. Fascism is on the rise, truth is dead, the planet is heating up, and Trump is tweeting the world ever-closer to nuclear war. How do you make art, let alone a life, when one rogue tweet could end it all? In Crudo, her first work of fiction, Olivia Laing radically rewires the novel with a fierce, compassionate account of learning to love when the end of the world seems near.
Rising life expectancies and declining social capital in the developed world mean that an increasing number of people are likely to experience some form of loneliness in their lifetimes than ever before. Narratives of Loneliness tackles some of the most pressing issues related to loneliness, showing that whilst recent policies on social integration, community building and volunteering may go some way to giving an illusion of not being alone, ultimately, they offer a rhetoric of togetherness that may be more seductive than ameliorative, as the condition and experience of loneliness is far more complex than commonly perceived. Containing thought-provoking contributions from researchers and commentators in several countries, this important work challenges us to rethink some of the burning issues of our day with specific reference to the causes and consequences of loneliness. Topics include the loneliness and mental health of military personnel, loneliness and social media, loneliness and sexuality, urban loneliness, and the experiences of transnational movement and adopted children. This book therefore makes an overdue multidisciplinary contribution to the emerging debate about how best to deal with loneliness in a world that combines greater and faster connectedness on the one hand with more intensely experienced isolation on the other. Since Émile Durkheim first claimed that the structure of society could have a strong bearing on psychological health in the 1890s, researchers in a range of disciplines have explored the probable impact of social context on mental health and wellbeing. Interdisciplinary in approach, Narratives of Loneliness will therefore be of great interest to academics, postgraduate students and researchers in social sciences, the arts, psychology and psychiatry.
WHY IS IT THAT SOME OF THE GREATEST WORKS OF LITERATURE HAVE BEEN PRODUCED BY WRITERS IN THE GRIP OF ALCOHOLISM, AN ADDICTION THAT COST THEM PERSONAL HAPPINESS AND CAUSED HARM TO THOSE WHO LOVED THEM? In The Trip to Echo Spring, Olivia Laing examines the link between creativity and alcohol through the work and lives of six extraordinary men: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, John Berryman, John Cheever, and Raymond Carver. All six of these writers were alcoholics, and the subject of drinking surfaces in some of their finest work, from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof to A Moveable Feast. Often, they did their drinking together: Hemingway and Fitzgerald ricocheting through the cafés of Paris in the 1920s; Carver and Cheever speeding to the liquor store in Iowa in the icy winter of 1973. Olivia Laing grew up in an alcoholic family herself. One spring, wanting to make sense of this ferocious, entangling disease, she took a journey across America that plunged her into the heart of these overlapping lives. As she travels from Cheever's New York to Williams's New Orleans, and from Hemingway's Key West to Carver's Port Angeles, she pieces together a topographical map of alcoholism, from the horrors of addiction to the miraculous possibilities of recovery. Beautiful, captivating, and original, The Trip to Echo Spring strips away the myth of the alcoholic writer to reveal the terrible price creativity can exert.
Both devastating and funny, The Lonely Londoners is an unforgettable account of immigrant experience - and one of the great twentieth-century London novels. This Penguin Modern Classics edition includes an introduction by Susheila Nasta. At Waterloo Station, hopeful new arrivals from the West Indies step off the boat train, ready to start afresh in 1950s London. There, homesick Moses Aloetta, who has already lived in the city for years, meets Henry 'Sir Galahad' Oliver and shows him the ropes. In this strange, cold and foggy city where the natives can be less than friendly at the sight of a black face, has Galahad met his Waterloo? But the irrepressible newcomer cannot be cast down. He and all the other lonely new Londoners - from shiftless Cap to Tolroy, whose family has descended on him from Jamaica - must try to create a new life for themselves. As pessimistic 'old veteran' Moses watches their attempts, they gradually learn to survive and come to love the heady excitements of London. Sam Selvon (b. 1923) was born in San Fernando, Trinidad. In 1950 Selvon left Trinidad for the UK where after hard times of survival he established himself as a writer with A Brighter Sun (1952), An Island is a World (1955), The Lonely Londoners (1956), Ways of Sunlight (1957), Turn Again Tiger (1958), I Hear Thunder (1963), The Housing Lark (1965), The Plains of Caroni (1970), Moses Ascending (1975) and Moses Migrating (1983). If you enjoyed The Lonely Londoners, you might like Jean Rhys's Voyage in the Dark or Shiva Naipaul's Fireflies, also available in Penguin Modern Classics. 'His Lonely Londoners has acquired a classics status since it appeared in 1956 as the definitive novel about London's West Indians' Financial Times 'The unforgettable picaresque ... a vernacular comedy of pathos' Guardian