'Never has a publication been more timely' - Dazed
'A brave writer whose books open up fundamental questions about life and art’ - Telegraph
In this remarkable, inspiring collection of essays, acclaimed writer and critic Olivia Laing makes a brilliant case for why art matters, especially in the turbulent political weather of the twenty-first century.
Funny Weather brings together a career's worth of Laing's writing about art and culture, examining their roles in our political and emotional lives. She profiles Jean-Michel Basquiat and Georgia O’Keeffe, interviews Hilary Mantel and Ali Smith, writes love letters to David Bowie and Freddie Mercury, and explores loneliness and technology, women and alcohol, sex and the body. With characteristic originality and compassion, she celebrates art as a force of resistance and repair, an antidote to a frightening political time.
We’re often told art can’t change anything. In Funny Weather, Laing argues that it can. It changes how we see the world, it exposes inequality, and it offers fertile new ways of living.
A brave writer whose books open up fundamental questions about life and art - Telegraph
Olivia Laing is my new favourite non-fiction writer - Nick Hornby
Like all great critics, Olivia Laing combines formidable intelligence with boundless curiosity and fabulous taste, but she also has a rare quality of intimacy; an ability to connect the reader to a work of art or literature with a directness that lights it up like nothing else. It’s why I read her -- James Lasdun
Her observations and poetic incisiveness on art, writers and politics are a gift. This is a fascinating, excursive, tonic of a book -- Sinéad Gleeson, author of Constellations
A thought-provoking, inspiring collection that you can go back to whenever the weather takes a funny turn - Evening Standard
Funny Weather gives the reader a tangible sense of the sprawling garden of work which Laing has planted. She is to the art world what David Attenborough is to nature: a worthy guide with both a macro and micro vision, fluent in her chosen tongue and always full of empathy and awe - Irish Times
Laing has acted as a kind of cultural sage for the past four years, an accidental literary grande dame of the emotional havoc wrought by late capitalism and digital disconnect - New York Magazine
Laing writes of her creative subjects in a winning, passionate voice that proves both soothing and galvanizing, especially amid a panic . . . It’s not just art we need in an emergency, but writers, like Laing, who gently guide our eyes to what’s out there -- Alina Cohen - Observer
The hospitality of world view in Olivia’s writing is a vital force in our disputatious present -- Maria Balshaw, director of Tate
Laing combines passion and curiosity in a collection of art-based essays and profiles that reflect the uncertainty of our age - Guardian
Never has a publication been more timely - Dazed
A warm, thinking, enticing sweep of a book, like spending the afternoon with your brainiest friend -- Kate Mosse, author of The Burning Chambers
A fine writer’s embrace of the artists who preceded her, friendly visits with their lives and loving acknowledgement of their foundational contributions. A work of joy in recognition -- Sarah Schulman
The book to help you make sense of the world . . . [a] mesmerizing collection of essays . . . this unique and compassionate book is a mind-expanding opportunity to rethink how we live, and what we can do to change things for the better. - Stylist
A light-footed tour of enriching stories, lives, and ideas - Dazed and Confused
Her gift as a critic is her ability to imaginatively sympathize with her subjects in a way that allows the art and life of the artist to go on radiating meaning after the book is closed - Elle
Breathtaking, beautiful, funny, shocking, sad, revealing, and timely -- Nina Stibbe, author of Love, Nina
I yield to absolutely no one in my admiration of Olivia Laing; her essays are magical liberations of words and ideas, art and love; they're the essence of great 21st century literature: brilliantly expressed, wildly uncontained, wilful and wonderfully unbound. -- Philip Hoare, author of RISINGTIDEFALLINGSTAR
Olivia Laing shines the light for art writing. Funny Weather urges us to humanise art, and listen to what artists say about life, love and crisis. -- Charlie Porter
An incivisive meditation on the value of heartfelt, messy art in our paranoid times - Telegraph
It’s not just art we need in an emergency, but writers, like Laing, who gently guide our eyes to what’s out there - Observer
Vibrant commentary on art and society by a writer with a sharp eye for the offbeat - Kirkus
Laing’s essays are urgent, compassionate, enlivening and acutely perceptive, and that’s true whether or not we encounter them “in an emergency” - the arts desk
Her words seem balefully accurate, given what has now overtaken us - Financial Times
Laing is an intelligent and acute writer, and this book is certainly interesting and assuredly well-written - Scotsman
Laing’s arts writing is sharp-minded, and her manner is generous toward both subject and reader - Washington Post
About the Author
Olivia Laing is the author of three acclaimed works of non-fiction, To the River, The Trip to Echo Spring and The Lonely City, which has been translated into eighteen languages and sold over 100,000 copies worldwide. Her first novel, Crudo, was a Sunday Times top ten bestseller and won the 2019 James Tait Memorial Prize. She’s a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and in 2018 was awarded a Windham-Campbell Prize for non-fiction.
Laing writes on art and culture for many publications, including the Guardian, New York Times and frieze. Her collected writing on art, Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency, was published in 2020. She lives in Suffolk.