Picador acquires new book from Olivia Laing

Rights - NonFiction Thursday, 21 March 2019

Paul Baggaley signs essay collection Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency

Picador publisher Paul Baggaley and Kishani Widyaratna have bought UK & Commonwealth rights for a collection of essays, Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency by Olivia Laing from Rebecca Carter at Janklow & Nesbit (UK). Picador plans to publish Funny Weather in Spring 2020, whilst Jill Bialosky at Norton will publish Funny Weather in the US.

Baggaley said: "It has been a pleasure working with Olivia Laing on the publication of Crudo and watching it reach a wide readership with lots more still to come. We are very excited that we will publish a wonderful new book, Funny Weather, which will delight Olivia’s existing fans and be a perfect introduction to new readers. No one writes quite like Olivia and this collection makes a brilliant and inspiring case for why art matters more than ever in the turbulent political weather of the 21st century."

Laing said: "I feel very grateful to Picador, who react with enthusiasm to every unexpected book I propose. This one matters to me deeply. It’s about the artists and writers I love, from David Bowie and Freddie Mercury to Agnes Martin and Patricia Highsmith. It’s also about the role of art in the world, especially as a force for resistance and repair."

According to the acquisition statement: 'Writer and critic Olivia Laing has, in recent years, been hailed as "a major presence in contemporary non-fiction." In this remarkable new collection of essays, she brings together a career’s worth of writing about why art – paintings, books, music – really matters.

'From To the River to The Lonely City, all of Laing’s books have been about the role of art in real lives: how it can help make sense of difficult personal circumstance or show the truth of cruel or unjust political situations. This faith in art is what readers love about her work. Funny Weather allows us to trace the development of her passions, from the artists and writers who inspire her to the deeply engaged column ‘Funny Weather’ that she writes for Frieze, where she grapples with the political changes of the last three years.

'In a frightening political moment, in which the humanities are being dangerously undervalued, we’re often told that art can’t really change anything. Laing argues that it can. It changes how we see the world. It gives us X-ray vision. It makes plain inequalities, and it suggests fertile new ways of living.'

Laing is the author of three acclaimed works of non-fiction. To the River (2011) was shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize and the Dolman Travel Book of the Year. The Trip to Echo Spring (2013) was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Prize and the Gordon Burn Prize. The Lonely City (2015) won the Eccles British Library Writer’s Award, was shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism and has been translated into fifteen languages.

Her first novel, Crudo, published in 2018, was a Sunday Times bestseller and was shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize and the Goldsmith’s Prize. In 2018 she was awarded a Windham-Campbell Prize for non-fiction. Laing writes on art and culture for publications including The Guardian, New Statesman, New York Times and Frieze.

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