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Extended Audio Sample The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone, by Olivia Laing Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Olivia Laing Narrator: Susan Lyons Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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An expertly crafted work of reportage, memoir, and biography on the subject of loneliness told through the lives of six iconic artists, by the acclaimed author of The Trip to Echo Spring.

You can be lonely anywhere, but there is a particular flavor to the loneliness that comes from living in a city, surrounded by thousands of strangers. The Lonely City is a roving cultural history of urban loneliness, centered on the ultimate city: Manhattan, that teeming island of gneiss, concrete, and glass.

What does it mean to be lonely? How do we live if we’re not intimately involved with another human being? How do we connect with other people, particularly if our sexuality or physical body is considered deviant or damaged? Does technology draw us closer together or trap us behind screens?

Olivia Laing explores these questions by traveling deep into the work and lives of some of the century’s most original artists, among them Andy Warhol, David Wojnarowicz, Edward Hopper, Henry Darger, and Klaus Nomi.

Part memoir, part biography, part dazzling work of cultural criticism, The Lonely City is not just a map, but a celebration of the state of loneliness. It’s a voyage out to a strange and sometimes lovely island, adrift from the larger continent of human experience, but visited by many—millions, say—of souls.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Laing…picks up the topic of painful urban isolation and sets it down in many smart and oddly consoling places. She makes the topic her own.”

    New York Times

  • “An impressive and beguiling combination of autobiography and biography, a balancing act that Laing effortlessly performs.”


  • “Her book succeeds in offering its readers a redemptive experience comparable to the one she’s describing….This triumphant book is in part an appeal for us to value the kind of loneliness that can be rendered, by the intimacy of art, both tolerable and shareable.”

    Daily Telegraph (London)

  • “Exquisite…Laing has taken a painful spell in her life and turned it into a book of extraordinary compassion and insight.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Laing perceives that loneliness is not only a sense of isolation but also of brokenness, and that art can be an annealing force…Through her ardent research, empathetic response, original thought, courageous candor, and exquisite language, Laing joins the ever-growing pool of writers…who are transforming memoir into a daring and dynamic literary form of discovery.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Laing creates a ‘map of loneliness,’ tracking its often-paradoxical contours in her own life as a transplant to New York City and traces how loneliness can inspire creativity…She invents new ways to consider how isolation plays into art or even the Internet (which turns her into an obsessed teenager, albeit one who calls the screen her ‘cathected silver lover’). For once, loneliness becomes a place worth lingering.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Absorbing melding of memoir, biography, art essay, and philosophical meditation…Although art may be generated by loneliness, writes Laing in this illuminating, enriching book, it has a significant ‘capacity to create intimacy.’”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • A BookPage Top Pick for March 2016
  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • A 2016 Gordon Burn Prize Shortlist Selection 
  • A 2016 Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year Selection for Nonfiction
  • An Elle Magazine Pick of the Best Books of 2016 (So Far)
  • A 2016 GoodReads Readers’ Choice Best Nonfiction Award Nominee
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