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Book Title

Voice of the Fish

A Lyric Essay
Author 1
Lars Horn
Lars Horn’s Voice of the Fish, the latest Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize winner, is an interwoven essay collection that explores the trans experience through themes of water, fish, and mythology, set against the backdrop of travels in Russia and a debilitating back injury that left Horn temporarily unable to speak. In Horn’s adept hands, the collection takes shape as a unified book: short vignettes about fish, reliquaries, and antiquities serve as interludes between longer essays, knitting together a sinuous, wave-like form that flows across the book.
Horn swims through a range of subjects, roving across marine history, theology, questions of the body and gender, sexuality, transmasculinity, and illness. From Horn’s upbringing with a mother who used them as a model in photos and art installations—memorably in a photography session in an ice bath with dead squid—to Horn’s travels before they were out as trans, these essays are linked by a desire to interrogate liminal physicalities. Horn reexamines the oft-presumed uniformity of bodily experience, breaking down the implied singularity of “the body” as cultural and scientific object. The essays instead privilege ways of seeing and being that resist binaries, ways that falter, fracture, mutate. A sui generis work of nonfiction, Voice of the Fish blends the aquatic, mystical, and physical to reach a place beyond them all.

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Winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, a lyric essay on transmasculinity and the oceanic world

About the Author

Lars  Horn
Credit: Richard Allen
Lars Horn holds MAs from the University of Edinburgh; the École normale supérieure, Paris; and Concordia University, Montreal. Horn’s work has appeared in the Kenyon Review, Write Across Canada, and New Writing Scotland. They live in Miami.
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  • “Lars Horn's Voice of the Fish was one of those books that left me changed. . . . The writing, sentence for sentence, is extraordinary.”—Alexander Chee, The Millions
  • "[...] Horn offers fascinating piscine lore, rendered in prose that’s grounded and evocative even when hallucinatory [...]. The result is a sonorous meditation on living a fluid life."–Publishers Weekly
  • "Horn’s story sparkles with emotional intensity. A promising literary debut."–Kirkus Reviews
  • “Although they don’t explicitly say this, Horn’s work is essentially an archival one, writing themselves, their body, their gender, and the enigmatic nature of their identity, which ‘exists for the most part as unseen, unworded, unintelligible,’ into our world and the historical record. They leave us with a sense of possibility of what could be, and as their “body finally breathed” at the end of the book, they give us the permission to let ours breathe, also."—Stef Rubino, Autostraddle 
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