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The Lonely City


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About the Author

Olivia Laing is a widely acclaimed writer and critic. Her work appears in numerous publications, including the Guardian, Observer, New Statesman, Frieze and New York Times. She's a Yaddo and MacDowell Fellow and was 2014 Eccles Writer in Residence at the British Library. Her first book, To the River, was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize and the Dolman Travel Book of the Year. The Trip to Echo Spring was shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Biography Award and the 2014 Gordon Burn Prize. The Lonely City has been shortlisted for the 2016 Gordon Burn Prize. She lives in Cambridge.


Triumphant . . . A brave writer whose books open up fundamental questions about life and art
* * Telegraph * *

Luminously wise and deeply compassionate . . . A fierce and essential work

Wonderfully freewheeling . . . Constantly surprising . . . Inspired
* * Guardian * *

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

A new kind of literature . . . Endlessly, compulsively fascinating
* * New Statesman * *

Unusually brave . . . Sublime
* * The Times * *

Laing cuts close to the bone of a universal yet often unrelatable state
* * Financial Times * *

A gifted critic and biographer . . . a fascinating, eerie piece of writing
* * Sunday Times * *

One of the finest writers of the new non-fiction . . . Compelling and original
* * Harpers Bazaar * *

Exhilarating . . . beautifully integrated, original, compassionate
* * Independent * *

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

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*

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 * *

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
* * The National * *

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 * *

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