When Olivia Laing moved to New York City in her mid-thirties, she found herself experiencing the strange state of being alone in a teeming metropolis. She began to explore artists who had lived in the city and how their output reflects the tension between their outward public persona and their internal private lives. From Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks to Andy Warhol’s Time Capsules, from Henry Darger’s hoarding to David Wojnarowicz’s AIDS activism – Laing conducts an electric, dazzling investigation into the spaces between people and the things that draw them together, about sexuality, mortality and the magical possibilities of art. Humane, provocative and deeply moving, The Lonely City is a celebration of a strange and lovely state, adrift from the larger continent of human experience, but intrinsic to the very act of being alive.
Everyone is Watching by Megan Bradbury also focuses on New York City. It is told through the interwoven narratives of four major figures from New York City’s history: the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, the writer Edmund White, the urban planner Robert Moses, and the poet Walt Whitman. Through their perspectives we examine themes of social, economic, architectural and sexual change; memory, nostalgia and urban gentrification; the spiritual promise of cities and the question: what is a city and who it is for?
The links between the narratives are intended to form a pattern of voices that reflect the many layers of consciousness and history contained within the city.
Olivia Laing is the former Deputy Books Editor of the Observer and writes for a variety of publications, including the Observer, New Statesman, Guardian and Times Literary Supplement. Her previous books are To The River and A Trip to Echo Spring.
Megan Bradbury was born in the United States and grew up in Britain. She studied at the University of East Anglia, graduating with an MA in Creative Writing in 2005. In 2012 she was awarded the Charles Pick Fellowship at UEA, and in 2013 she won an Escalator Literature Award and a Grant for the Arts to help fund the completion of her first novel.