Shortlisted for the Goldsmith’s Prize, the Gordon Burn Prize and the James Tait Black Award.
Dive in to a tale of love and loathing with the beach read of the summer.
Kathy is a writer. Kathy is getting married. It’s the summer of 2017 and the whole world is falling apart.
From a Tuscan hotel for the super-rich to a Brexit-paralysed UK, Kathy spends the first summer of her forties trying to adjust to making a lifelong commitment just as Trump is tweeting the world into nuclear war. But it’s not only Kathy who’s changing. Political, social and natural landscapes are all in peril. Fascism is on the rise, truth is dead, the planet is hotting up. Is it really worth learning to love when the end of the world is nigh? And how do you make art, let alone a life, when one rogue tweet could end it all.
Olivia Laing radically rewires the novel in a brilliant, funny and emphatically raw account of love in the apocalypse. A Goodbye to Berlin for the 21st century, Crudo charts in real time what it was like to live and love in the horrifying summer of 2017, from the perspective of a commitment-phobic artist who may or may not be Kathy Acker . . .
I absolutely love it. It made me feel carefree. I think Olivia Laing captures a sense of intimacy that is rare. Just so thoroughly enjoyable. -- Nell Dunn The pacing is quick and slick... In there with the dexterousness and sagacity of the sentences are warmth and love, humour and kindness... Sane and searing -- June Caldwell * Irish Times * Olivia Laing, known for her chronicles of urban loneliness and writers' attraction to drink as well as critical writing on art and literature, jumps genres with her first novel, Crudo. It's a spitfire of a story with a fervent narrator and a twist: The book is written in the voice of punk feminist author Kathy Acker performed in mash-up with Laing's own, as she considers marriage (with equivocation) and the absurdity of current events circa 2017. * The Millions * Crudo by Olivia Laing is a hot and heavy look at post-Brexit Britain through the eyes of newlywed Kathy as she summers in Italy. It's Olivia Laing's fiction debut and is very much a self-assured interrogation of the times we live in. -- Nikesh Shukla * Guardian, Best summer books 2018 * I don't think I'll ever forget the day I spent reading Olivia Laing's Crudo. I couldn't put it down, and then it overwhelmed me so much I had to put it down, and then I had to pick it back up again. A beautiful, strange, intelligent novel. -- Sally Rooney * Guardian, Best summer books 2018 * Laing's first novel is a funny and compassionate response to a frightening year of fire, floods, fascism and Trump's Twitter feed. * Tatler * So, who is Kathy? Kathy has serious FOMO, she is genderqueer, Kathy is not the Underground Man; she is the Underground They. She has lost her corporeality; she is having an identity crisis. Kathy is numb. Kathy is full of angst. Kathy is ill. Kathy is the 21st century. * Review 31 * Perfectly captures our social media madness . . . It's also a book of really funny lines . . . I particularly enjoyed her extended fantasy about Princess Diana prowling around Kensington Palace talking to Freddy Mercury on her landline. It's potty. I recommend taking a running jump at it. * Evening Standard * Crudo feels like a perfect response to the nasty, lovely days that we're living in and the contemporary smorgasbord of identities . . . The presence of Kathy Acker was brilliantly handled - I believed so completely, for the duration of the novel, that she had lived through last summer. I love how Laing throws these lines to the past - it feels unique to her writing. And it's weirdly reassuring. -- Sara Baume Chic, compassionate, crabby, perspicacious, and marvellously playful - Crudo is a huge-hearted novel that conveys the weight of the world with the lightest touch - I loved the mercurial energy that flew off its fast-turning pages. -- Claire-Louise Bennett, author of Pond Laing is a mesmerising critic and memoirist, a travel writer in that she connects the inner to the outer world. She is simply one of our most exciting writers, who has explored through her work loneliness, alcoholism and art in The Lonely City and The Trip to Echo Spring. Every tangent is a tributary for Laing that leads somewhere unexpected. She wanders both as insider and outsider, queer, curious, unsettled, erudite, wondering what it is to be an artist. * Observer * Crudo has all the beauty and music and clarity of Olivia Laing's non-fiction, but with something more too. Entrancing, charming, fascinating, I literally couldn't put it down. -- Jeremy Gavron Crudo has crept up on me. I have just finished it and I am filling up with tears and I am not sure why. It seemed to be speaking from deep within me and also at me, like a mirror that won't leave me alone, that insists I stare into it day after day, talking to me, to my gaze. What a special piece of work. And the rhythm is perfect. -- Lara Pawson Sharp, witty, compassionate and totally engaging. Crudo is a brilliant novel. -- Patrick McGrath It is an extraordinary novel of style and savagery: poised, transgressive and transformative. I read it hungrily. It left me licking my lips -- Jon Day Witty, hectic, effervescent, and deliciously derailing, Olivia Laing's first venture into fiction holds up a mirror to our troubled times -- Rupert Thomson We hereby acknowledge the irresistible rise of Olivia Laing, a writer incapable of anything other than full-on, nonstop brilliance. Crudo, her secular creed for crazy times, only proves her magical moment: to be there in it, and to take us along, too. One long electric dream, spinning with intimate energy and the sharpest saddest funniest humour, it's so utterly in-the-moment that you'll forget you aren't reading about yourself. -- Philip Hoare, author of RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR Olivia Laing is a genius - not a word I throw about lightly. It is raw and breathless and effortlessly radical, and having turned the last page I couldn't even set it down before beginning it again. In a time of political auto-satire and the surreal unravelling of meaning itself, many novelists are left uncertain how they ought to respond. This - Crudo - is how. -- Francesca Segal A dazzling, profound and darkly comic inquisition into what it is to be human. To read Crudo is to experience magic on every page. Olivia Laing's writing leaves me breathless with awe -- Elizabeth Day, author of The Party Reading Olivia Laing's short, sleek novel Crudo is like seeing the (very) recent past through a wall of mirrors. Laing adopts fragments of Kathy Acker's writings and life to arrive at a narrative style that's readable, shockingly new, and surprisingly tender. I didn't want it to stop. -- Chris Kraus, author of I Love Dick I read it in one go, lost all sense of time, floating on the rhythm, stung by the beats, I bet Kathy Acker would have loved it, I did. -- Viv Albertine Crudo is intensely personal and simultaneously global in its concerns. It forces us to consider the two together and bind our own immediate dramas to those of the wider world. It is an important novel that shouts to the vastness and the urgency of what it means to be alive, now. * Spectator * I adored Crudo. I believe it is a great novel. Olivia writes so beautifully about life and nature in both city and country, and always finds some aspect to laugh about, one feels today's world is worth saving. I also adore Kathy, her whacky, sexy, promiscuous heroine. The story is so funny and touching, I can't wait to read it again. -- Jilly Cooper Laing's fiction debut is a fizzy and thrilling tale of a woman who may or may not be experimental novelist Kathy Acker, preparing for marriage in the summer of 2017. Beautifully written with a voice that grabs from the off. * Independent * Electric and unputdownable, its 'love in the apocalypse' vibe is deep and light at the same time. * Elle * A piece of electrifying writing * Daily Mail * Beautiful and strange, Olivia Laing's Crudo is an urgent, compelling, funny and moving tale for our times. -- Paula Hawkins In Crudo her triumph, rather, is rendering on the page the texture of a very contemporary sensibility . . . The novel form famously struggles to represent the intersection in our lives of the personal-parochial and the political-global: here's a way to try. And the writing is often so fresh and clever and funny. -- Tessa Hadley * Guardian * Finally, I don't think I'll ever forget the day I spent reading Olivia Laing's Crudo. I couldn't put it down, and then it overwhelmed me so much I had to put it down, and then I had to pick it back up again. A beautiful, strange, intelligent novel. -- Sally Rooney, author of Conversations With Friends The status beach read of the summer * Sunday Times Style * Laing's prose shimmers and is selfish then, suddenly, full of love. It's a high-wire act. This is the novel as a love letter to Acker. She gives her a happier ending than the one she had. She asks us what a novel can do when unreality rules. She asks what it is like to be alive when the old order is dying . . . Crudo is a hot, hot book. The fuse is lit. -- Susanne Moore * Observer * Written at a war-mongering time of rising nationalisms, the vitality of Olivia Laing's questioning love letter to life and to art will blow you away -- Deborah Levy
Book experts at your service
What are you looking for?