You say “writers, even the most socially gifted and established, must be outsiders of some sort, if only because their job is that of scrutinizer and witness.” I know your next book is about urban loneliness. What do you do, as a writer, to feel less alone? Why are you so drawn to the topic?
OL: Well, I don’t necessarily try and feel less alone. I got interested in loneliness as a subject because I started to notice the amount of fear and shame it generates. States like that are fascinating to me. And I felt like it had connections with creativity, with art, that it was often about difference and as such that it had a political dimension too. Loneliness is a state of lack, a longing, and though that can be acutely painful it’s also interesting. I do think that reading helps, maybe more than any other art form, in that it gives you this extraordinarily privileged access to the interior. It shows the reader other people also experience shameful, difficult feelings, which in itself makes one less lonely.”