Review – Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City

lonelycitycoverAs someone who regularly enjoys solitude and “aloneness”, I leaped at the opportunity to explore the concept of loneliness, which is a state people often feel ashamed to admit to. Olivia Laing moves seamlessly between memoir, biography and cultural criticism, in a very successful attempt at investigating the cause of urban loneliness, as well as how it may be resisted and redeemed. This “strange and lovely state”, and the connection between isolation and creativity, is celebrated through the lives and works of iconic artists such as Hopper, Warhol and Darger.

The book is evocative, observant and comforting and one comes away with a deeper understanding of how beauty may be found in unexpected human experiences, and that loneliness is a rather special place.

Mary-Ann Burke