Ellen Ullman’s By Blood is 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.
Don’t miss Parul Sehgal’s admiring (and profound) review in the weekend’s New York Times Book Review.
I talk with Ullman on Thursday, March 1, at Book Court, at 7 p.m. She will also read, and we’ll celebrate the release of this wonderful book into the world. Join us if you’re free.