By Susan Harris
Do you look at bouquets of red roses and calculate when they’ll go limp? Do you think chocolates should come in boxes shaped like aortas and ventricles? Do you want to tell conversation hearts to shut up? If the relentless sentimentality of February brings out the antiromantic in you, we invite you to the more realistic side of our archives. For every moving portrait of a long and happy union (see Bùi Ngọc Tấn’s “Endless Universe”), there are half a dozen of love gone wrong. Here are just a few examples of tainted love from around the world to get you in (or out of) the mood this month:
Jeon Sam-hye’s futuristic “Genesis,” translated from Korean by Anton Hur, tracks a banished astronaut-in-training’s yearning for the unwitting object of her affection.
Horacio Castellanos Moya’s scheming drunk gins up a threesome, then finds himself odd man out in “Snatch,” translated from Spanish by Samantha Schnee.
Giancarlo Pastore’s disenchanted lover uses the language of flowers to tell his boyfriend arrivederci in “Pansies,” translated from Italian by Wendell Ricketts.
Journalist Karolina Domagalska observes a separated couple struggling to coparent with the lesbians whose children they fathered, in “Rainbow Families: Four Parents and Two Children,” translated from Polish by Marta Dziurosz.
Félix J. Palma’s dumped man seeks consolation with his new neighbor and finds himself in an unlikely triangle in “Meow,” translated from Spanish by Nick Caistor and Amanda Hopkinson.
Johan Harstad’s “Chlorine” follows a teen juggling a daunting lifesaving test with trying to save the life of his anorectic crush, translated from Norwegian by Deborah Dawkin and Erik Skuggevik.
And Nao-Cola Yamayaki discovers getting a taciturn lover to commit is like pulling teeth in “Cavities and Kindness,” translated from Japanese by Kalau Almony.
Published Feb 14, 2019 Copyright 2019 Susan Harris