The Lonely City
Mr B's review
I picked up ‘The Lonely City’ expecting to read about loneliness in a hyper-connected world, then fell in love with it for a hundred other reasons. It’s a city-stroll which seems to last several life-times. The people you’ll meet are marvellous artists at the periphery, who made the city what it is. Laing’s story of her own isolation amongst these echoing voices is a celebration of art and solidarity, but also a fantastic path to new discoveries.
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2016 GORDON BURN PRIZE
CHOSEN AS ‘BOOK OF THE YEAR’ BY
Times Literary Supplement
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.
Triumphant . . . a brave writer whose books open up fundamental questions about life and art * * Telegraph * * Wonderfully freewheeling . . . constantly surprising . . . inspired * * Guardian * * Luminously wise and deeply compassionate . . . a fierce and essential work — HELEN MACDONALD, author of H is for Hawk Unusually brave . . . Sublime * * The Times * * A new kind of literature . . . Endlessly, compulsively fascinating * * New Statesman * * Laing cuts close to the bone of a universal yet often unrelatable state * * Financial Times * * “One of the finest writers of the new non-fiction . . . Compelling and original * * Harpers Bazaar * * The Lonely City is continually unexpected, stimulating and beautifully structured. I am in awe of Olivia Laing’s insights, braininess and that something that feels like recklessness until it lands — PETER CAREY A remarkable combination of personal mediation and psychological and artistic inquiry, The Lonely City is always superbly written, fascinating and often sharply moving. Ultimately the book has a paradoxical effect: at the same time as it makes one aware of one’s own inescapable solitude, it leaves one feeling less alone — ADAM FOULDS, author of The Quickening Maze The Lonely City is a stunning homage to how extreme loneliness can make us more hospitable to the strangeness of others – to the risks and innovations of art and artists. Laing has written a classic that will be cherished for years to come — DEBORAH LEVY, author of Swimming Home Exhilarating . . . beautifully integrated, original, compassionate — MICHELE ROBERTS * * Independent * * A gifted critic and biographer . . . a fascinating, eerie piece of writing * * Sunday Times * * Smart and oddly consoling . . . Laing makes the topic her own * * New York Times Book Review * * Considered, authoritative, evocative, empathetic, and full of insight . . . To join Laing in that atmosphere is to enter a world that is at once dark and lambent, and in which loneliness features not just as an eternal fall, but as one of the treasures of what it is to be fully, briefly, human — MATTHEW ADAMS * * The National * * Blisteringly precise . . . Her gift as a critic is her ability to imaginatively sympathize with her subjects in a way that allows the art and life of the artist to go on radiating meaning after the book is closed * * Elle * * An uncommonly observant hybrid of memoir, history and cultural criticism . . . a book of extraordinary compassion and insight * * San Francisco Chronicle * * Remarkable . . . a memoir, an essay and a group biography all in one, which takes a difficult, almost taboo subject and deftly turns it over anew * * Evening Standard * * A devastating and intimate examination of urban loneliness. With a unique voice, and painstaking research, Laing explores the dark side of our cities as well as the redemptive power of communities — GAVIN FRANCIS, author of Adventures in Human Being Accessible, bright and endlessly thought-provoking . . . a commentator of exceptional heart and voice * * Irish Independent * * Magical . . . reminding us of how it feels to be lonely, this book gently affirms our connectedness * * Boston Globe * * Connecting becomes less intimidating if the fear of failure is removed. This brave book is a step in that direction * * Economist * * Intensely involving and affecting . . . Laing’s superb study extends far beyond art criticism * * The Lady * * Part memoir, part treatise on art and geography, Olivia Laing’s book looks at loneliness and how public spaces and especially art can cure or calm this very modern condition * * Red * *