Skip to content
For literary responses to COVID-19 from writers around the world, check out our Voices from the Pandemic series.

7 Stories of Love’s Labors and Loss to Read This Valentine’s Day

By Alexandra Vail

It’s February, and love is in the air. Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we’ve gathered seven stories from our archives that are sure to put your romantic notions to the test.

Levi Henriksen

“I accept her banknote and smooth it out, even though it has never been folded, while I search for signs that she recognizes me. But her face is like a page in a diary that has never been written.”

In Levi Henriksen’s “All the Way Home,” translated from Norwegian by Diane Oatley, a bus driver gives a solitary passenger a ride home on Christmas Eve.

Photo by 青 晨 on Unsplash

Matteo B. Bianchi

“The seductive tone of his voice when he talks to me is more than a little exciting. Every once in a while he drops a word in dialect into the conversation, which gives me enormous pleasure.”

A university student finds himself falling in love with an unlikely suspect in Matteo B. Bianchi’s “The Lost Language of Crane Operators,” translated from Italian by Wendell Ricketts.


Kári Tulinius​

“The next time he chose Lionel over me, I understood that this was the way my life was going to be, that I would always be second best.”

A man becomes obsessed with his lover’s open relationship in this excerpt from Abel’s Autobiography by Kári Tulinius, translated from Icelandic by Larissa Kyzer.

Photo by Will O on Unsplash

Bùi Ngọc Tấn

“Nothing could stop a twenty-year-old woman in love and beloved for the first time.”

An elderly man reminisces about love and youth in Bùi Ngọc Tấn’s “Endless Universe,” translated from Vietnamese by Nguyễn Hoàng Quyên.

Naira Gelashvili

“I hadn’t experienced this kind of confusion since I was a child, and I couldn’t explain it.”

A man finds himself unexpectedly in love in “Little Dipper” by Naira Gelashvili, translated from Georgian by Mary Childs.

Photo by Luiz Felipe on Unsplash

Carlos Oriel Wynter Melo

“He’s supposed to show up on the next streetcar, but she doesn’t believe he will.”

A woman anxiously awaits the arrival of her lover in this short story by Carlos Oriel Wynter Melo, translated from Spanish by Pamela Carmell.

Johan Harstad

“The smell of you, it has begun to disappear from the house, from your dresses, from your things in the bathroom, from all the rooms, from the bedclothes, which I had to wash in the end.”

In Johan Harstad’s “To,” translated from Norweigian by Deborah Dawkin and Erik Skuggevik, an old man keeps his wife alive in his memory before he, too, disappears.

Published Feb 14, 2020   Copyright 2020 Alexandra Vail

Leave Your Comment

comments powered by Disqus
Like what you read? Help WWB bring you the best new writing from around the world.