The Lonely City

Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

Olivia Laing

Loneliness, I began to realise, was a populated place: a city in itself. And when one inhabits a city, even a city as rigorously and logically constructed as Manhattan, one starts by getting lost
The Lonely City by Olivia Laing (Paperback ISBN 9781782111252) book cover

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A dazzling investigation into loneliness, art and the modern city - ‘A fierce and essential work’ Helen Macdonald


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.

“Triumphant … A brave writer whose books open up fundamental questions about life and art”

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“Luminously wise and deeply compassionate … A fierce and essential work”
Helen Macdonald, Author Of H Is For Hawk

“Wonderfully freewheeling … Constantly surprising … Inspired”

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

“A new kind of literature … Endlessly, compulsively fascinating”
new Statesman

Olivia Laing

Olivia Laing is the author of four acclaimed works of non-fiction, To the River (2011), The Trip to Echo Spring (2013), The Lonely City (2016) and Everybody (2021). Her first novel, Crudo, was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller and won the 2019 James Tait Memorial Prize. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and in 2018 was awarded a Windham-Campbell Prize for non-fiction. Her work has been translated into 19 languages.

Laing writes on art and culture for many publications, including the Guardian, Financial Times and New York Times. Her collected writing on art, Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency, was published in 2020. She lives in Suffolk.

Instagram: @olivialanguage |

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