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5 Erotic International Reads That Will Make You Blush This Valentine’s Day

By Jessie Chaffee

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’re dipping into stories about love’s agonies and ecstasies from our archives. From secret fantasies to the body of the beloved to the feeling of language on the tongue, these writers explore the many things that make our hearts beat faster.  

“At the moment of tripartite lovemaking, jealousy and desire compete with equal ferocity.”

—Gabriella Weiner’s chronically unfaithful protagonist finds satiation in transgression in “Three,” translated by Lucy Greaves.


“A glutton for you: / When my mealtime is over / I lick my finger . . .”

—In Elvira Riveiro Tobío’s sensual “Carnia Haikai,” an “omnivorous poet” consumes the beloved. Translated by Adrian Nathan West.


“Effie hadn’t come from the outside; she’d unfolded from within Darka like one of her own organs.”

—A woman is haunted by the specter of a fiery adolescent friendship in Oksana Zabuzhko’s “Girls,” translated by Askold Melnyczuk. 


“Only another fetishist can appreciate the thousand and one dramas and sacrifices involved in getting the piece we desire.”

—In Cristina Peri Rossi’s “Fetishists Anonymous,” secret cravings take infinite forms, from stockings to slot machines to (only left) shoes. Translated by Tobias Hecht.


“The night / is at rock-height trying to pronounce / your name: hot, salty in my mouth.”

—Flávia Rocha channels the “heat of language” in an excerpt from Um País, translated by Idra Novey.

Published Feb 13, 2018   Copyright 2018 Jessie Chaffee

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