By Blood, Ellen Ullman
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Ellen Ullman

By Blood

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ANew York TimesNotable Book of 2012


From the acclaimed American novelist and memoirist Ellen Ullman,By Bloodis a gothic noir novel that explores questions about fate, identity and genetics in the guise of a gripping psychological thriller.
A professor is on leave from his post a leave that may have been forced upon him. He may or may not be of sound mind. To steady himself, he rents an office in San Francisco. It is 1974, a time when free love and psychedelic ecstasy have given way to drug violence and serial killings. Through the thin office walls, the professor overhears the sessions of a therapist and a patient, and without knowing the patient s name or face he comes to know the details of her life, her family, her lovers. He inserts himself into her search for her “mysterious origins”: a deeply troubling journey through displaced-persons camps, stolen children, and hidden pasts.


Ellen Ullman is a writer of ferocious intelligence, andBy Bloodis thrilling and fraught, a darkly atmospheric tale of what we can know about our identity, what we can escape of it, and what we cannot.


'A novel that thematically interweaves fate, identity, obsession and genetics into a propulsive page-turner that shows a profound understanding of character. It's a multilayered mystery (in the same way that Dostoyevsky was a mystery writer) and an inquiry into the subjective nature of narrative . .. A first-rate literary thriller of compelling psychological and philosophical depth.'
Kirkus(Starred Review)
'A thrilling page-turner of a book . .. Book clubs of America, take note.By Bloodis what you should be reading. Ullman is someone we all should be reading.'
Newsday
'A literary inquiry into identity and legacy . .. A gripping mystery . .. The storytelling is compelling and propulsive . .. Ullman is also a careful stylist.'
Los Angeles Times
Ellen Ullman'sBy Bloodis published by Pushkin Press
Ellen Ullman'sClose to the Machine, a memoir of her time as a software engineer during the early years of the internet revolution, became a cult classic and established her as a writer of considerable talent; with her second book,The Bug, she became an acclaimed and vital novelist;By Bloodis her third. Her essays and opinion pieces have been widely published in venues such asHarper's,The New York Times,Salon, andWired. She lives in San Francisco.
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2012
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recalled the first time I had ever heard a sound like the one issuing from
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My involvement with the young woman in question began several years ago, in the late summer of 1974, while I was on leave from the university. I sought to secure for myself a small office in the downtown business district of San Francisco, where I intended to prepare a series of lectures about The Eumenides—The Kindly Ones—the third play in Aeschylus’s great trilogy
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But then she says to me, Everything worthwhile requires a fight. Honey, don’t you want to struggle?
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