Insomniac City : New York, Oliver Sacks, and Me


We suggest this…

for sleepless nights, especially if you are grieving.

A quick summary

Insomniac City is a beautiful series of diary extracts and short essays about love and loss. Bill Hayes’ beloved partner of many years died unexpectedly, and he moved to New York in a state of shock and grief. He tracks the seasons and reflects on bereavement, insomnia, art, and the city. Then, unexpectedly but happily, he and the great neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks meet and fall in love – the first romance of Sack’s life, age 75. Hayes tells their sweet love story by sharing snippets of their beautiful conversations, heightened by their awareness of how precious their time together was.


Publisher’s description…

‘A beautiful memoir in which Oliver Sacks comes wonderfully to life … Exquisitely wrought, heartrending and joyous’ Joyce Carol Oates

Bill Hayes came to New York in 2009 with a one-way ticket and only the vaguest idea of how he would get by. But, at forty-eight years old, having spent decades in San Francisco, he craved change.

Grieving over the death of his partner, he quickly discovered the profound consolations of the city’s incessant rhythms, the sight of the Empire State Building against the night sky, and New Yorkers themselves, kindred souls that Hayes, a lifelong insomniac, encountered on late-night strolls with his camera. And he unexpectedly fell in love again, with his friend and neighbor, the writer and neurologist Oliver Sacks, whose exuberance is captured in funny and touching vignettes throughout. What emerges is a portrait of Sacks at his most personal and endearing, from falling in love for the first time at age seventy-five to facing illness and death (Sacks died of cancer in August 2015).

Insomniac City is both a meditation on grief and a celebration of life. Filled with Hayes’s distinctive street photos of everyday New Yorkers, the book is a love song to the city and to all who have felt the particular magic and solace it offers.

Additional information

Format Paperback
Weight 248 g
Dimensions 198 × 129 × 19 mm
Book Author

ISBN 9781408890615


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