In her mid-thirties, Olivia Laing moved from England to New York in search of love. After her relationship ended, Laing found herself alone in New York City with 8 million people. She was left feeling lonely every day. The Lonely City is her memoir of this period. She wandered alone through the city and became engrossed in artists like Andy Warhol, Edward Hopper and David Wojnarowicz. It was published in 2016 long before lockdown was a common reality. However, Laing’s thoughtful examination of isolation is more relevant today.
If you think about reading the book, here is a fragment that will help you make up your mind:
“I have never been to New York. I moved around, but I never stayed for a full summer. All the outdoor pools that I wanted remained empty and their water was spirited away during the long off-season. I mostly stayed downtown on the east side of the island. I took sublets in East Village tenements and co-ops for garment workers. You could hear the traffic cross the Williamsburg Bridge day and night. When I was walking home from the temporary office I had found, I would sometimes make a detour to Hamilton Fish Park.”