The author of The Lonely City takes readers on an ambitious investigation into the body in the twentieth century, using the life of the renegade psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich to chart an electrifying course through the great freedom movements of the era, from gay rights and sexual liberation to feminism and the civil-rights movement.

Simply one of our most exciting writers' - Observer 'A free-wheeling and joyful exploration of the works and lives of a range of artists and thinkers who brought libidinal and creative energy together with spectacular results' - Jack Halberstam The body is a source of pleasure and of pain, at once hopelessly vulnerable and radiant with power. At a moment in which basic rights are once again imperilled, Olivia Laing conducts an ambitious investigation into the body and its discontents, using the life of the renegade psychoanalyst Wilhelm Reich to chart a daring course through the long struggle for bodily freedom, from gay rights and sexual liberation to feminism and the civil rights movement. Drawing on her own experiences in protest and alternative medicine, and travelling from Weimar Berlin to the prisons of McCarthy-era America, she grapples with some of the most significant and complicated figures of the past century, among them Nina Simone, Christopher Isherwood, Andrea Dworkin, Sigmund Freud, Susan Sontag and Malcolm X. Despite its many burdens, the body remains a source of power, even in an era as technologized and automated as our own. Everybody is an examination of the forces arranged against freedom and a celebration of how ordinary human bodies can resist oppression and reshape the world. 'A brave writer whose books open up fundamental questions about life and art' - Telegraph


ISBN13: 9781509857111
Format: Hardback
Number of Pages: 368
Publication Date: 29 Apr 2021
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication City, Country: London, United Kingdom
Dimensions (cm): 24.2(H) x 16.3(L) x 4.3(W)902
Weight (gm): 902

Author Biography

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 seventeen 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.


An ambitious, absorbing achievement that will make your brain hum, like going on a funfair ride with a very clever friend * Evening Standard *
This is an astonishing project, written with equal parts stirring passion and capable intellect. Laing puts into words experiences I had never before seen in print, and the world is better for it. I love this book -- Esme Weijun Wang, author of The Collected Schizophrenias

Laing's impassioned commitment to the promise of bodily freedom, of every body's right to move and feel and love without harming or being harmed, shines through every sentence of the book . . . The theme is amplified by reflective vignettes of her own bodily experiences, woven into the book with a deftness, candour and generosity that readers of The Lonely City and The Trip to Echo Spring will immediately recognise . . . Yet Laing's Reichian utopianism, with its ultimate horizon of a body without fear, coexists with a clear-eyed sense, at work in all its granular explorations of sexual politics, art and ideas, of how and why that horizon seems always to be vanishing. And this tension, between defiant hope and sober realism, only enriches her intensely moving, vital and artful book

-- Josh Cohen * Guardian *
Laing is a truly thrilling thinker, with an impressively roving intellectual eye * Telegraph *
Radically subversive * The Times Literary Supplement *
Andrea Dworkin, Sontag, Malcolm X, Freud - they speak to us and come alive again, but we aren't asked to decide if they are good or bad; we can listen to their thoughts and ideas. It's a revelation in an age when we seem endlessly to judge and condemn our artists and thinkers -- Chantal Joffe * Guardian *
Olivia Laing has a genius for juxtaposing ideas and lives - of artists, writers, thinkers, her own too - so that they illuminate each other in fresh, sometimes startling ways. This new book is a triumph. It bristles with energy and understanding as it charts the body's pleasures and pains, its fragilities, and endurance in the long 20th century. Above all, through illness, sex, the markers of gender and race, it tangles with the ways in which the body is always enmeshed with mind and psyche, society and politics. This really is a book for everybody. -- Lisa Appignanesi, author of Mad, Bad and Sad
A quintessential book for the precarious moment we've found ourselves in * Washington Post *
Olivia Laing writes so well and engagingly -- Philippa Perry, author of How to Stay Sane
Even as she glides between subjects and themes, Laing remains anchored by the bond between the body and personhood. In a standout chapter, she claims that the harm of violence is not the work it does to transform subjects into objects, but the incompletion of that work: the soul becomes a "ruin with a human face" * New Yorker *
Through [Laing's] incisive lens, the body-that knot of mind, matter, culture, and society that we dwell inescapably within-becomes almost impossibly fascinating -- Alexandra Kleeman, author of You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine
Reading Everybody felt like hanging out with my absolute smartest friend having, somehow, the precise conversation I need to have in this historical moment. Olivia Laing's mind is a thrill to watch . . . Rare is the book that makes you feel more alive just in reading it, but Everybody does just that -- Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, author of The Fact of a Body
A new book by Olivia Laing is always cause for celebration and Everybody: A Book About Freedom is no exception * Frieze *
A provocative inquiry into the body's power and vulnerability . . . casting fresh light on the unending struggles for freedom and autonomy -- Jenn Shapland, author of My Autobiography of Carson McCullers
Everybody is a riveting and fascinating innovative historiography of 20th century Euro-American radical thought . . . Brainy, open-hearted and bold -- Sarah Schulman, author of Conflict Is Not Abuse and Let the Record Show
Laing is radically empathetic, a writer-activist * Vulture *
A free-wheeling and joyful exploration . . . Laing's particular gift lies in her unique ability to line up unlikely juxtapositions-of artists, ideas and works-and then draw clear and illuminating insights from such constellations. What her earlier work did for loneliness, this book does for liberation -- Jack Halberstam, author of Gaga Feminism
In this brilliant and curiously gentle book, Olivia Laing tells of the brave people of the twentieth century who fought for sexual freedom, while also telling her own story of learning to inhabit one particular body. At a time in which all of our bodies have made us so strangely isolated and dangerous to each other, Everybody is especially resonant; and shows us just how important it is to explore our sexual identity in order to know who we really are -- Julia Blackburn, author of Time Songs

Impassioned and provocative . . . This lucid foray into some of life's deepest questions astonishes

* Publishers Weekly, starred review *
Reflecting on her fraught sense of embodiment, Laing creates a penetrating examination of the political and cultural meanings ascribed to bodies as well as the relationships of bodies to power and freedom . . . Intellectually vigorous and emotionally stirring * Kirkus, Starred Review *
Framed as an extended conversation between the author and her sources, in which De Sade blurs into Reich, who blurs into Sontag, and back again . . . the key to all this movement is that it also invites us to participate in the conversation - a conversation that changes as Everybody progresses, reflecting the fluidity Laing investigates. * LA Times *

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