The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone


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Olivia Laing reads from and discusses her new book with Ali Smith

What does it mean to be lonely? How do we live, if we’re not intimately engaged with another human being? How do we connect with other people? Does technology draw us closer together or trap us behind screens?

When Olivia Laing, 2014 Eccles British Writer in Residence, 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 works and lives – from Edward Hopper's Nighthawks to Andy Warhol's Time Capsules, from Henry Darger's hoarding to the depredations of the AIDS crisis – Laing conducts an electric, dazzling investigation into what it means to be alone.

Laing will be reading from her major new book, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone and discussing its themes with acclaimed novelist Ali Smith.

Olivia Laing is an acclaimed writer and critic and the former deputy literary editor of the Observer. She's the author of To the River, shortlisted for the 2011 Onddatje Prize and the Dolman Travel Book Award, and The Trip to Echo Spring, shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Biography Award and the Gordon Burn Prize. She used her residency at the British Library in 2014 to research The Lonely City.

Ali Smith's latest novel is the Orange Prize-winning How to be both (Hamish Hamilton, 2014). Her latest collection of short stories is Public Library (Hamish Hamilton, 2015). 

The talk will be followed by a drinks reception and book signing.

Sponsored by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library


Name: The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone
Where: Conference Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Price: Full Price: £10.00
Senior 60+: £8.00
Student: £7.00
Registered Unemployed: £7.00
Under 18: £7.00
Friend of the BL: £7.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546