To the River: A Journey Beneath the Surface
Over sixty years after Virginia Woolf drowned in the River Ouse, Olivia Laing sets out to walk its banks, from the source all the way to the sea. As she walks, she reflects upon the power of rivers, refracting mythology, science, social history and literature through their waters too shed light on their eternal violence and mystery.Lyrical and stirring, To the River is a meditation on landscape and our place within it - and how ghosts never really leave the places they love.
A beautifully written, elegant and subtle debut * * Financial Times * * A gentle, wise and riddling book -- ROBERT MACFARLANE Magical . . . By turns lyrical, melancholic and exultant, To the River just makes you want to follow Olivia Laing all the way to the sea -- PHILIP HOARE * * Daily Telegraph * * A beautifully written meditation on landscape * * The Sunday Times * * Wonderfully allusive . . . The book's subject and structure fuse pleasingly, weaving and meandering, pooling into biographical, mythical or historical backwaters * * Observer * * Without wanting to sound gushing, her writing at its sublime best reminds me of Richard Mabey's nature prose and the poetry of Alice Oswald . . . Laing seems to lack a layer of skin, rendering her susceptible to the smallest vibrations of the natural world as well as to the frailties of the human psyche * * The Times * * Has a Sebaldian edge to it that lifts it out of memoir and biography and into something far more tantalizing and suggestive * * Guardian * * This hugely accomplished first book draws on local lore and history, a vast range of research and some soaring lyrical writing * * Sunday Times * * Olivia Laing joins the best nature writers . . . Laing is a brilliant wordsmith and this is a beautifully accomplished book * * Independent * * Brave, distinctive, and deeply intelligent . . . The book has an intense, humming, cumulative effect * * Literary Review * *
Olivia Laing is a widely acclaimed writer and critic. Her work appears in numerous publications, including the Guardian, Observer, New Statesman, Frieze and New York Times. She's a Yaddo and MacDowell Fellow and was 2014 Eccles Writer in Residence at the British Library. To the River was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize and the Dolman Travel Book of the Year. Her second book, The Trip to Echo Spring was shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Biography Award and the 2014 Gordon Burn Prize, and The Lonely City has been shortlisted for the 2016 Gordon Burn Prize. She lives in Cambridge.