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How We Desire

Translated by Imogen Taylor

What if, instead of discovering our sexuality only once, during puberty, we discover it again later—and then again, after that? What if our sexuality reinvents itself every time our desire shifts, every time the object of our desire changes? What if the nature of our desire is constantly changing—growing deeper, lighter, wilder, more reckless, more tender, more selfish, more devoted, more radical?

How We Desire is an enthralling essay about gender, sexuality and love by one of Germany’s most admired writers. It’s about growing up, and discovering the contours of desire and difference, about understanding that we sometimes ‘slip into norms the way we slip into clothes, putting them on because they’re laid out ready for us’.

In telling her own story, Emcke draws back the veil on how we experience desire, no matter what our sexual orientation. And she examines how prejudice against homosexuality has survived its decriminalisation in the west.

This marvellous book pays homage to the radical magic and liberating tenderness of desire itself.


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Carolin Emcke
About the Author

Carolin Emcke was born in 1967. She studied philosophy, politics and history in London, Frankfurt and at Harvard. From 1998 to 2013 she reported from war and crisis zones including Kosovo, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Gaza and Haiti. She has written a number of books, and in 2016 she received the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, which has...

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Text publication date:
28 May 2018
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sexual identify, gender identity, LGBTQIA, gender studies
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Praise for Carolin Emcke
andHow We Desire

‘Delicate and vulnerable, angry, passionate, clever and thoughtful. An amazing work.’

‘Her words tremble with fury…A compelling conversation, urging readers to rethink the borderlands of the erotic.’

‘Huge intellect and tremendous energy.’


‘A beautiful account of discovering and rediscovering one’s identity.’

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