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Review of The History of my Sexuality by Tobi Lakmaker

This is a novel about Sofie, a young woman living in the Netherlands who doesn’t feel quite right. Through telling the history of her sexuality, starting with losing her virginity to ‘Walter the Recruitment Consultant’, she begins to explain how she plans to become herself. There’s an untangling happening; from figuring out she’s more attracted to women than to men, to then feeling more masculine than feminine, and these are realisations happening alongside grief and difficult family relationships that makes her question whether any of it even matters. By the end, Sofie is at the point of the journey where she is beginning to visit a hospital to become ‘less of a girl and more of a boy’. 

Columnist Tobi Lakmaker caused a literary sensation in the Netherlands when he debuted The History of My Sexuality so I was eager to read the translation and it did not disappoint. Rarely does a book make me laugh out loud but this had the honour of doing so. Tobi’s writing style hits the sweet spot between comedy and brutality and for me, that’s a spot where beautiful stories are told. It’s not just a frothy coming-of-age tale, it’s a rumination on what it means to lose and find oneself, what loneliness feels like and why we need to talk about it, and there’s some pretty hot takes on the publishing world in there too. If you want to start your reading year off with a bang, I’d wholeheartedly recommend this short but impactful book. 

Reviewed by Abi.

THOMS was published on 18/01/24 by Granta.

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