Blutbuch / Bloodbook

Kim de l’Horizon

Dumont, Autumn 2022

The book’s unnamed protagonist, who feels neither male nor female, is prompted by their grandmother’s slide into dementia to investigate their family history. The more their grandmother forgets, the more the narrator tries to remember: what was it in their childhood that prompted them to feel so alienated from their body? Does it have something to do with the family’s hushed-up history of incest? Why is their grandmother struggling to differentiate between herself and her sister who died young? And what happened to their youngest great aunt who disappeared when she was young?

Tracking down answers to these questions proves difficult because the family has a habit of keeping quiet about such matters. At the heart of it all is the question of self-determination: how to exist when your own body is never a given, but is instead constantly having to be negotiated?

Singular in its style and form, Bloodbook deals with our intangible heritage, the things we carry without being asked: stories, genders, identities, trauma, languages, class affiliations. Kim de l’Horizon searches for other kinds of knowledge and traditions, other stories and ways of becoming: feminist, witchy, bought with blood, and those that leave a hole in their wake. De l’Horizon leaves the linear, monotonous form of family stories behind and opts for a fluid, streaming form of writing which softens instead of pinning down.

Read an English-language sample translation by Jamie Lee Searle here.

This book was shortlisted for the German Book Prize 2022. As the media partner for the Prize, we publish information on all six shortlisted books.