You are here

The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone (Paperback)

Staff Pick Logo
The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone Cover Image
On Our Shelves Now
3 on hand, as of Jun 24 7:45pm

Staff Reviews

I took my time with these essays, simply because they really and truly moved me. Olivia Laing meditates on pain, on loving, on cities, on loving and hating those cities, on the loneliness of being in a body. She does this through the eyes and themes of several different artists and does so with such expertise and empathy, I felt so much less alone just by reading. But I also started to feel a little better about the loneliness that is still forever embedded. It’s there, it’s a part of me, and it’s meant to be felt. This is a languorous and necessary read, one that I will revisit many times over. 

“There is a gentrification that is happening to cities, and there is a gentrification that is happening to the emotions too, with a similarly homogenising, whitening, deadening effect. Amidst the glossiness, of late capitalism, we are fed the notion that all difficult feeling - depression, anxiety, loneliness, rage - are simply a consequence of unsettled chemistry, a problem to be fixed, rather than a response to structural injustice or, on the other hand, to the native texture of embodiment, of doing time, as David Wojnarowicz memorably put it, in a rented body, with all the attendant grief and frustration that entails.”

— From Claire


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.

About the Author

OLIVIA LAING is a writer and critic. Her first book, To the River, was published by Canongate in the U.K. to wide acclaim and shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize and the Dolman Travel Book of the Year. She has been the deputy books editor of the Observer, and writes for the Guardian, New Statesman, and Granta, among other publications. She is a MacDowell and Yaddo Fellow, and the 2014 Writer in Residence at the British Library. Her critically acclaimed book, The Trip to Echo Spring: On Writers and Drinking, is published by Picador.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781250118035
ISBN-10: 1250118034
Publisher: Picador USA
Publication Date: June 6th, 2017
Pages: 336
Language: English