Olivia Laing

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Olivia Laing

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Born
The United Kingdom
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June 2016


Olivia Laing is a writer and critic. Her first book, To the River (2011) is the story of a midsummer journey down the river Virginia Woolf drowned in. It was a book of the year in the Evening Standard, Independent and Financial Times and was shortlisted for the 2012 Ondaatje Prize and the Dolman Travel Book of the Year.

Her second, The Trip to Echo Spring (2013), explores the liquid links between writers and alcohol. Hilary Mantel described it as 'one of the best books I've read on the creative uses of adversity'. It was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Prize and the Gordon Burn Prize, and was a book of the year in the New York Times, Time, Observer, Times, Economist and Statesman.

Her new book, The Lonely City (2016), is an investigation
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Average rating: 3.75 · 2,484 ratings · 452 reviews · 5 distinct works · Similar authors
The Trip to Echo Spring

3.61 avg rating — 1,272 ratings — published 2013 — 8 editions
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The Lonely City: Adventures...

3.93 avg rating — 955 ratings — published 2016 — 12 editions
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To the River: A Journey Ben...

3.79 avg rating — 235 ratings — published 2011 — 5 editions
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2.88 avg rating — 48 ratings — published 2013 — 3 editions
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An Event in Autumn: A Kurt ...

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3.63 avg rating — 3,266 ratings — published 2004 — 45 editions
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“At some point, you have to set down the past. At some point, you have to accept that everyone was doing their best. At some point, you have to gather yourself up, and go onward into your life.”
Olivia Laing, The Trip to Echo Spring

“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.”
Olivia Laing, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

“So much of the pain of loneliness is to do with concealment, with feeling compelled to hide vulnerability, to tuck ugliness away, to cover up scars as if they are literally repulsive. But why hide? What's so shameful about wanting, about desire, about having failed to achieve satisfaction, about experiencing unhappiness? Why this need to constantly inhabit peak states, or to be comfortably sealed inside a unit of two, turned inward from the world at large?”
Olivia Laing, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone

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