A fascinating work of conceptual fiction, Crudo deftly combines an intriguing mélange of influences. The novel is a timely look at the everyday anxieties of today's world, taking inspiration from the author's own life and infusing it with quotes from the writings of '70s cultural icon Kathy Acker and excerpts from contemporary media sources (including Twitter). The result is a seamlessly integrated narrative that makes for a smart and exhilarating read.
A New York Times Notable, The New Yorker, Washington Post, NPR, Guardian, Esquire, and Bustle Best Book of 2018
“Love may not be original, but this funny, fervent novel is.”—The New Yorker
It’s the summer of 2017 and Kathy is getting married. Meanwhile, fascism is on the rise, truth is dead, the planet is heating up, and Trump is tweeting the world ever closer to nuclear war. In Crudo, her first work of fiction, Olivia Laing radically rewires the novel with a fierce, compassionate account of learning to love when the end of the world seems in sight.
About the Author
Olivia Laing is the author of three acclaimed works of nonfiction, To the River (2011), The Trip to Echo Spring (2013), and The Lonely City (2016), which was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism and has been translated into seventeen languages. Her first novel, Crudo, was a New York Times Notable Book and won the 2019 James Tait Black Prize. She writes for the Guardian, New York Times, and frieze, among many other publications. Her collected writing on art, Funny Weather, was published in 2020. The recipient of the 2018 Windham-Campbell Prize in nonfiction, Laing lives in Suffolk, UK.
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. — Deborah Levy - Wall Street Journal
Written with bristling intelligence, this debut novel… pays homage to the iconoclastic author Kathy Acker, creating a pastiche of voices and identities. — New York Times
Breathless and gripping.… [Crudo] traps the first summer of Trump and Brexit like a fly in amber.… As a record, Crudo is perfect, and agonizing.
[Crudo is] about the longing to escape our ossified selves—to become, if only for a 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>/em> her own.
— New York Times Book Review
Crudo could turn out to be a novel that we pick up years from now to remind ourselves how these times felt.
— Alexandra Schwartz - The New Yorker
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 pretzel twist of form and meaning.… Laing strikes some terrific chords in this novel. — Dwight Garner - New York Times
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the day I spent reading Crudo. I couldn’t put it down, and then it overwhelmed me so much I had to put it down, and then I had to pick it back up again. A beautiful, strange, intelligent novel.
— Sally Rooney - Guardian
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.