When Amy Liptrot returns to Orkney after more than a decade away, she is drawn back to the Outrun on the sheep farm where she grew up. Approaching the land that was once home, memories of her childhood merge with the recent events that have set her on this journey.
Amy was shaped by the cycle of the seasons, birth and death on the farm, and her father's mental illness, which were as much a part of her childhood as the wild, carefree existence on Orkney. But as she grew up, she longed to leave this remote life. She moved to London and found herself in a hedonistic cycle. Unable to control her drinking, alcohol gradually took over. Now thirty, she finds herself washed up back home on Orkney, standing unstable at the cliff edge, trying to come to terms with what happened to her in London.
Spending early mornings swimming in the bracingly cold sea, the days tracking Orkney's wildlife – puffins nesting on sea stacks, arctic terns swooping close enough to feel their wings – and nights searching the sky for the Merry Dancers, Amy slowly makes the journey towards recovery from addiction.
The Outrun is a beautiful, inspiring book about living on the edge, about the pull between island and city, and about the ability of the sea, the land, the wind and the moon to restore life and renew hope.
Amy Liptrot has published her work with various magazines, journals and blogs and she has written a regular column for Caught by the River out of which The Outrun has emerged. As well as writing for local newspaper, Orkney Today, and editing the Edinburgh Student newspaper, Amy has worked as an artist's model, a trampolinist and in a shellfish factory. The Outrun was awarded the 2016 Wainwright Prize and was shortlisted for the 2016 Wellcome Prize.
– Winner of the 2017 Pen Ackerley Prize
– Winner of the 2016 Wainwright Prize
– Shortlisted for the 2017 Ondaatje Prize
– Shortlisted for the 2016 Wellcome Prize
"A lyrical, brave memoir. It's Liptrot's aptitude for marrying her inner-space with wild outer-spaces that makes her such a compelling writer [...] I enjoyed this book enormously"
– Will Self, Guardian
"An exhilarating memoir [...] Anyone who has ever been unhappy or unwise will find much that resonates in this powerful, beautiful writing"
– Cathy Rentzenbrink, Stylist
"Brilliant [...] one of the most scabrously honest, sassy and moving books about addiction and recovery that I have read"
"The Outrun will no doubt sit alongside Richard Mabey's Nature Cure and Helen Macdonald's H Is for Hawk – the sheer sensuality of Liptrot's prose and her steely resolve immediately put her right up there with the best of the best. Liptrot is an Orcadian warrior with the breeze in her blood and poetry in her fingers, and The Outrun may even be a future classic. Wherever she journeys next, you will want to go with her"
– New Statesman
"Amy Liptrot has lived her life on the edge of things, both literally and metaphorically. Her beautiful first book gives a wonderfully evocative account of both, blending searing memoir with sublime nature writing, and coming up with a unique piece of prose that amounts to a stirring personal philosophy of how to live. Her descriptive writing of the [Orkney] islands and their wildlife absolutely sizzles, a scintillating mix of clear-eyed insight and poetic heart. She ties in elements of myth and fantasy, some of the islands' remarkable history, and her own visceral experience to create something as compelling as any thriller. Amy Liptrot is the real deal, a writer whose voice seems fully formed on the page, and I can't wait to read what she writes next"
– Independent on Sunday
"There is a great deal of frank, flinch-making writing in this book, but it is always balanced by a sublimity and graciousness that is rare. This is a bold-hearted and brave-minded book. It is both terribly sad and awfully affecting. I look forward to its presence on some prize lists"
– Scotland on Sunday
"An uncompromising account of addiction and recovery played out against the blasted fields of Orkney. Liptrot's writing is strong and sure. The Outrun is a bright addition to the exploding genre of writing about place and our place in the natural world"
"Clean, clear and impressive [...] a sensuous book, full of summer nights and winter water. Liptrot swims, walks, lives alone on uninhabited islands and observes. And from that comes a portrait of the natural world she is absorbed into"
"The Outrun is a trenchant, modernist siren song to belonging, where Herculean effort and close observation can root you as strongly as bloodlines"
– Caught by the River
"Clear-eyed and brave"
"Stunning [...] there is much to enjoy in this brave and uncompromising account"
"A meditative memoir that's a perfect antidote for Christmas excess"
"An astonishingly beautiful book. Amy makes most nature writing seem flat and pedestrian. Her account of her addiction and recovery is electric, sexy, immediate and raw, leaving the reader reeling in her wake [...] This is a luminous, life-affirming book, and I have no doubt that I'll be pressing it into people's hands for years to come"
– Olivia Laing
"Beautiful, stark and unflinching. Amy Liptrot is an extraordinary new voice"
– Jenni Fagan
"A painfully honest look in a broken mirror, this memoir is intensely unsettling but also deeply peaceful"
– Damian Barr
"This book sang to me. I loved it. It is beautiful, badass, meticulous and moving. Never evangelical or mawkish, it is by turns heart-breaking and edifying. A tale of adventure and personal evolution, it is the story of a woman finding her own painful edges, and then finding the grit, and guts, and vision to bring herself back – to the edges of a Scottish island – to recover, and to process her experiences through words. It's a book you will read, and re-read, and re-read"
– Emma-Jane Unsworth
"An astoundingly honest, uplifting tale of recovery from addiction. Bold and unflinching, with the journey north the reader is taken by the hand through an excoriating process of healing, linked as it is to a return to this wind-scoured Northland. The gentle increase in attention to wild nature in all its aspects of death and renewal illuminates and purges the soul. This is a book with a core of fire and ice that manages to be both rough and tender with the self and finally says: change your life"
– Miriam Darlington
"An unmissable read"
– The Skinny
"Humane and compelling [...] A stark and moving memoir of addiction"
– Irish Times
"Insightful and wonderfully evocative [...] an outstanding debut"
– The List
"Remarkable [...] a meditative interior journey which Liptrot elevates to an art"
"Courageous and clear-sighted"
– The Lady – Book of the Week
"Mixing scintillating nature writing with explosive memoir and brave honesty, The Outrun is a book about making peace with life on the edge of the world"
– Big Issue
"A brave and self-assured memoir [...] An exciting contribution to a new form of nature writing"
– Times Literary Supplement