Bodies in peril

A tonally strange collection that misses the mark
by
October 2021, no. 436
Buy this book

Everybody: A book about freedom by Olivia Laing

Picador, $44.99 hb, 349 pp

Bodies in peril

A tonally strange collection that misses the mark
by
October 2021, no. 436
Olivia Laing (photograph by Sophie Davidson)
Olivia Laing (photograph by Sophie Davidson)

Olivia Laing describes her latest book, Everybody: A book about freedom, as one about ‘bodies in peril and bodies as a force for change’. I would describe Everybody as a biographical project, about people whose work engaged with the ideas of bodies and freedom in the twentieth century. This might seem like a subtle difference, but it’s an important one: had Laing conceptualised and framed the book in the latter way, I think Everybody would be a less frustrating read. As it stands, Laing’s biographical writing, while insightful and rigorously researched, ends up feeling like an (admittedly deft) avoidance tactic; Everybody sets out to be a book that takes a hard and uncomfortable look at the topic of bodies and their roles in the pursuit and denial of freedom, but it doesn’t quite dare to do so directly. It ends up being a book about people who have.

Caitlin McGregor reviews 'Everybody: A book about freedom' by Olivia Laing

Everybody: A book about freedom

by Olivia Laing

Picador, $44.99 hb, 349 pp

Buy this book

You May Also Like

Leave a comment

If you are an ABR subscriber, you will need to sign in to post a comment.

If you have forgotten your sign in details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to ABR Comments. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.