Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency

Funny Weather: Art in an Emergency

By Olivia Laing
368 pages
May 2020

"One of the finest writers of the new nonfiction" (Harper’s Bazaar) explores the role of art in our tumultuous modern era.

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 role in our political and emotional lives. She profiles Jean-Michel Basquiat and Georgia O’Keeffe, reads Maggie Nelson and Sally Rooney, 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 that art can’t change anything. Laing argues that it can. Art changes how we see the world. It makes plain inequalities and it offers fertile new ways of living.

"These essays showcase Laing as an imaginative and empathetic critic of the arts. She gets at texture, technique, feeling, and politics all at once... It's a pleasure to follow Laing as she pokes around companionably, examining the things that interest her." -- Annalisa Quinn ― NPR

"Laing’s arts writing is sharp-minded, and her manner is generous toward both subject and reader." -- John Glassie ― Washington Post

"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