A strange, brief novel that intertwines real events from the summer of 2017 with fictional events experienced by Kathy Acker — yes, that Kathy Acker, still alive and facing down her own marriage. The stream-of-consciousness prose is difficult but rewarding; if I couldn't always keep up, I definitely couldn't look away. Recommended By Ashleigh B., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A brilliant, funny, and emphatically raw novel of love on the brink of the apocalypse, from the acclaimed author of The Lonely City.
"She had no idea what to do with love, she experienced it as invasion, as the prelude to loss and pain, she really didn't have a clue."
Kathy is a writer. Kathy is getting married. It's the summer of 2017 and the whole world is falling apart. Fast-paced and frantic, Crudo unfolds in real time from the perspective of a commitment-phobic artist who might be Kathy Acker.
From a Tuscan hotel for the super-rich to a Brexit-paralyzed United Kingdom, Kathy spends the first summer of her forties adjusting to the idea of a lifelong commitment. 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.
“Beautiful and strange, Olivia Laing’s Crudo is an urgent, compelling, funny and moving tale for our times.” Paula Hawkins, author of The Girl on the Train
“Reading Olivia Laing’s short, sleek novel Crudo is like seeing the (very) recent past through a wall of mirrors. Laing adopts fragments of Kathy Acker’s writings and life to arrive at a narrative style that’s readable, shockingly new, and surprisingly tender. I didn’t want it to stop.” Chris Kraus, author of I Love Dick
“To enjoy this book, you have to stop trying to understand it. If you can, you may well experience a warm sense of recognition at the absurdity and impossibility of trying to carry on a life in these times. Mysterious, bizarre, frustrating, weirdly smart, and pretty cool.” Kirkus
“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.” Guardian
“A spitfire of a story with a fervent narrator and a twist: The book is written in the voice of punk feminist author Kathy Acker performed in a mash-up with Laing's own, as she considers marriage (with equivocation) and the absurdity of current events circa 2017.” The Millions
“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
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.