“Violence, Porn, Curses,” a review of THE POLYGLOT LOVERS in The Seattle Review of Books

14 May

For the The Seattle Review of Books, I reviewed Lina Wolff’s novel The Polyglot Lovers, translated by Saskia Vogel. I feel I should clarify that “curses” refers to hexes, not mere expletives. Here’s how the review begins:

When I reach for literature in translation, I’m hoping to learn something about another culture, gain a new perspective. So, when I cracked open Lina Wolff’s The Polyglot Lovers, I prickled against how much American culture was front and center, with an epigraph from Stephen King, a narrator, Ellinor, who is part of a fight club inspired by Fight Club, and her boyfriend named “Johnny.” There’s a terse animosity between Ellinor and Johnny that reminded me of Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. And their sexual routine — Johnny staring at Ellinor while she lies naked on the bed, legs spread — reminded me of the much-mocked scene in Jonathan Safran Foer’s Here I Am, in which a wife asks her husband to fulfill a fantasy of being stared at like that until she orgasms.

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