"Like the best novels, it's irresistible-twisty-turny, insightful, revelatory - funny when it's tragic, and complicated when it's funny" National Public Radio
"Rewarding ... Deep, lengthy and rewarding therapy is as close as most people get to reading their lives as a novel. Here is a novel that offers itself as a deep, lengthy and rewarding version of a therapy. The memory of reading it remains quite intense" San Francisco Chronicle
"A dark, brooding, and marvelous novel that doesn't really resemble anything else, though disparate elements of it remind me of so many stories I love. The book combines a disturbing confessional intensity, as in Coetzee's Disgrace, Lasdun's Horned Man, and Tartt's The Secret History, with a paranoid claustrophobia akin to that of The Conversation, Coppola's surveillance masterpiece. Surprises from strange and terrible historical alleyways bring to mind Schlink's The Reader and Juan Gabriel Vasquez's The Informers. And the philosophical underpinnings recall, in their unobtrusiveness and urgency, the best of Iris Murdoch." Maud Newton
"Marvelously creepy ... A tricky thing to pull off but Ullman does it beautifully ... [By Blood] speaks volumes about the way we think about the Jewish past" Tablet
"The writing is as sharp as the intellect it reveals, with a tension bordering on the manic" SFArts.org
"Ullman first earned praise for her memoir Close to the Machine (2001), about her experiences as a female programmer in the formative years of Silicon Valley, and followed that with an ambitious, Kafkaesque debut novel, The Bug (2003), which also drew from her experiences in computer-human interface. Nine years later, her second novel 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
"What is most distinctive about Ullman's voice ... is the way it sounds fully formed, mature both intellectually and emotionally" Slate
"A noir gem ... Creepy-exciting and skillfully ironic at almost every turn ... We jump into Ullman's prose so we can be carried downstream, over the falls, into the past, rolled and jostled here, then there ... [An] amazing novel." Lambda Literary
"A mesmerizing tale that probes the very heart of personal identity" More
"A thrilling page-turner of a book ... By Blood is 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
"Delicious and intriguing" Daily Telegraph
"Smart, slippery ... Ullman arranges her players efficiently. But what astounds is how she binds them to one another ... It's a narrative striptease. And Ullman has such fun with it" The New York Times Book Review
"Extraordinary ... Proceeding in bursts of hydraulic prose, By Blood evokes San Francisco in all its stagflation gloom: the erotic danger of its nightlife, the coded nature of its transactions ... Riveting" --Boston Globe
“Ullman’s sentences are lithe and sinuous, her language evoking the seedy, depressive milieu of a run-down city convincingly and poetically … compelling … masterfully-written, suspenseful” --Booktrust
A New York Times Notable Book of 2012 From the acclaimed American novelist and memoirist Ellen Ullman, By Blood is a gothic noir novel that explores questions about fate, identity and genetics in the guise of a gripping psychological thriller.
From the acclaimed American novelist and memoirist Ellen Ullman, By Blood is 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, and By Blood is 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 Blood is 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's By Blood is published by Pushkin Press
Ellen Ullman's Close 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 Blood is her third. Her essays and opinion pieces have been widely published in venues such as Harper's, The New York Times, Salon, and Wired. She lives in San Francisco.