Lovers on All Saints' Day: Stories

These seven stories from Colombian author Juan Gabriel Vásquez (The Sound of Things Falling), written between 1998 and 2002, are set in Europe where Vásquez was then in self-imposed exile.

Like all of Vásquez's work, the stories in Lovers on All Saints' Day are uncompromising in their focus on the prosaic lives of his characters. Most of them are middle-aged men, bewildered by the turn their lives have taken. They pivot around partners in fractured pairings, two lonely people sometimes splintered by the long shadow of a third, someone often off-stage.

In "Hiding Places," a man staying with newly but unhappily married friends is asked by his landlord and the woman's father to spy on the couple. In "The All Saints' Day Lovers," a man clings to his failing marriage even as he spends the night comforting a young widow he's just met, holding her chastely while wearing her dead husband's pajamas. In "The Lodger," a man mourns the death of his best friend, unable to shake his memories of the man's affair with his wife long ago.

The stories' narrative voices are aloof, enhancing the sense of the characters as actors dwarfed by the vastness of their stage, their distance unbridgeable. They seem bewildered by the forces of fate that circumscribe their lives and leave them isolated and alone, longing for connection and meaning, each in turn hopeful but "uncertain... vulnerable to words and weather and the portent of love, a body in movement across a map, less alone than before, crossing meridians." --Jeanette Zwart, freelance writer and reviewer

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