I’m a writer and critic with a particular interest in art, protest, sexuality and cities (more on all of that here).


I've written three books. The Lonely City (2016) is an investigation into loneliness by way of art, including Andy Warhol, Edward Hopper and David Wojnarowicz. It was shortlisted for the Gordon Burn Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism and has been transated into twelve languages. Read the Observer extract here.


To the River (2011) is the story of a midsummer journey down the river Virginia Woolf drowned in. It was a book of the year in the Evening Standard, Independent and Financial Times and was shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize and the Dolman Travel Book of the Year.


The Trip to Echo Spring (2013) explores the liquid links between writers and alcohol. Hilary Mantel described it as 'one of the best books I've read on the creative uses of adversity'. It was shortlisted for the Costa Biography Prize and the Gordon Burn Prize, and was a book of the year in the New York Times, Time, Observer, Times, Economist and Statesman.


I'm a columnist for frieze and write on art and culture for the Guardian, New Statesman, Observer and New York Times among many other publications. You can view my Guardian profile here and my New Statesman profile here. Between 2007 and 2009, I was Deputy Books Editor of the Observer.


I regularly lecture and teach. Recent awards include fellowships at Yaddo and MacDowell and grants from the Arts Council and the Authors' Foundation. I was 2014 Eccles Writer in Residence at the British Library.


I'm represented by Janklow & Nesbit. If you'd like to discuss commissions of any sort, do contact me directly or via my agent. And if you want to know why I spent my early twenties living feral in the Sussex countryside you can read my Observer 'Once Upon a Life' here.

Picture credit: Mike Sim

website version2 website version website version2