Canongate explores The Outrun

News | 03-04-15

Canongate has acquired The Outrun by Amy Liptrot, a remarkable memoir that marks the arrival of a significant new voice in nature writing. Jenny Lord, Senior Editor at Canongate, bought World rights from James Macdonald Lockhart at Antony Harwood Ltd. The book will be published in the UK in January 2016.

The Outrun is both the story of Liptrot’s recovery from alcoholism, and a powerful statement about the restorative power of the natural world. The descendent of her column on popular arts and nature website Caught by the River, it is in equal parts heart-wrenching and uplifting, beautifully written and extremely brave.

Amy Liptrot grew up on a sheep farm on Orkney. She was shaped by the wind-swept, sea-scoured islands where unexplained tremors shake the ground, but longed for the excitement of the city. A move to London led to a life that was hedonistic and fun – all she had craved – but she was unable to control her drinking. Alcohol gradually took over, ruining everything, exposing her to some terrifying situations and leaving her lost and lonely. At thirty she finds herself washed up back home in Orkney, and discovers that this place she once longed to escape is curative, its wildness and lore playing an essential part in her recovery from addiction. It is here that she is able to put herself back together.

The Outrun is a beautiful, life-affirming book about living on the edge, about the pull between island and city, about how we come to understand where we belong, and about the ability of the sea, the land, the wind and the moon to restore life and renew hope.

Liptrot said, ‘The book is about my rediscovery of Orkney, made through working in the land and swimming in the sea and listening for birds at night, and about my complex relationship with the islands. It’s also about what happened after I stopped drinking. Not only was I writing about getting sober but also the writing itself has played a huge part in my recovery. Canongate - a publisher that, like me, has one foot in Scotland and the other in London - is the perfect home for my book.’

Lord added, ‘The Outrun is one of the most powerful and unique accounts of overcoming addiction I have ever read. It is also an extraordinary piece of nature writing by an exceptional young writer, and the kind of book that makes you feel a little bit more alive. We couldn’t be more thrilled to be publishing Amy.’


The Outrun is 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. And yet she's also elegant, thoughtful and controlled. I'm struck too by her ability to make links between her own experience and the larger landscapes she inhabits, from London Fields to the Orkney islands. And yet despite this attentiveness to place, there's nothing parochial about her vision. 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


For more information contact Canongate Head of Publicity, Anna Frame:

0131 524 9340 /