- Hardcover: 160 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company (September 11, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393652726
- ISBN-13: 978-0393652727
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.7 x 8.6 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Crudo: A Novel Hardcover – September 11, 2018
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From the Publisher
“Crudo could turn out to be a novel that we pick up years from now to remind ourselves how these times felt... Love may not be original, but this funny, fervent novel is.”
- Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker
“Written with bristling intelligence... [Crudo is] about the longing to escape our ossified selves―to become, if only for moment or within the pages of a novel, someone wilder and more radically free. And in staging that longing so directly and so honestly, Olivia Laing makes Crudo her own.”
- New York Times Book Review
“Breathless and gripping... [Crudo] traps the first summer of Trump and Brexit like a fly in amber.”
“[A] pretzel twist of form and meaning... Laing strikes some terrific chords in this novel.”
- Dwight Garner, New York Times
“Crudo seduces from the very first sentence. Laing as Acker is not a literary device―it is literary detonation... Crudo is a hot, hot book.”
“[A] single moment in modernity, deconstructed by the savagely entertaining, Acker-inspired voice of Laing.”
- Paris Review Daily
“A narrative written with immense vitality and, miraculously, the lightest of touches... It's a subversive love story that shouldn't work, but does.”
- Deborah Levy, Wall Street Journal
“Laing's experiment, and it's a good one, is to describe the world―her world, between May 17 and September 23, 2017―as precisely as she can... [Crudo is] a short, entirely readable, and lovably eccentric book.”
- Nick Hornby, The Believer
“Laing...dunks you into the narrative and its fast-moving waters. It's only once you get to the end that you realize you've been holding your breath.”
- Vanity Fair
“[Crudo] manages to capture the delirium and anxiety of carrying on through [this] turbulent period with searing clarity.”
About the Author
Olivia Laing is a widely acclaimed writer and critic. She writes for the Guardian, the New York Times, and Frieze, among many other publications. Her books include Crudo, The Trip to Echo Spring, and The Lonely City which was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award and translated into fifteen languages. The recipient of the 2018 Windham-Campbell Prize in nonfiction, she lives in London, England.
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Ostensibly narrated by a 40-year-old British writer a lot like Laing, CRUDO is in part about politics in the US and UK in 2017, where Trump and Brexit have sucked away public discourse on any other topics. And yet the novel is, seemingly, cross-narrated by American writer and feminist Kathy Acker, who died in 1997. (Interest in Acker’s work appears to have had a revival recently, and in her footnotes Laing cites a biography, Chris Kraus’ AFTER KATHY ACKER, that was published last year.)
The result of this mashup of auto-fiction and impersonation is a bizarre stream-of-consciousness chronicling by “Kathy” of her impending nuptials to a man who is 29 years older, along with her fearful concerns about the state of the world, aging (hers and his), traveling (to New York, on holiday), writing, caring too much and not caring enough: “Numbness mattered, it was what the Nazis did, made people feel like things were moving too fast to stop and though unpleasant and eventually terrifying and appalling, were probably impossible to do anything about.” Numbness is not what the narrator experiences; on the contrary, she’s alive to every emotion, experience and observation.
While it’s impossible to separate out the voices of author, narrator and Kathy, CRUDO doesn’t seem to require that of the reader. The point is to remain in the stream, grasp what it’s like to worry about the macro and the micro with equal intensity, and absorb the sensibility. If the book was longer or had a more demanding plot, this might be too much to pull off, but at 150 pages (eight of them footnotes), the “narrator” invites the reader to experience --- without having to make sense of --- the workings of a complex, highly anxious but impressively sensitive human being.
Reviewed by Lorraine W. Shanley
I can't say anything about this book that hasn't already been said better in reviews in the Guardian and New Yorker- but reading it is an experience in the hyper-present! A post-post-modern Woolf in it's stream of consciousness turned social media influenced roller-coaster of emotion and clinging, desperation and despondence in the age of decadence. Whether or not you have the context of having read Kathy Acker or not- there are so many unfolding layers to this book it demands further reading- and then re-reading. A wondrous, whirlwind of a novel by one of our great 'queer' thinkers and writers (I don't know that she accepts that as an identity- but I'm referring to her style, writing and what I've read of her opinions; not projecting a personal identity on her.) I will read this again and again- it's tough for it's short length. We need more writing by Olivia Laing!