Recommended Reading: The Polyglot Lovers

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The Polyglot Lovers

By Lina Wolff, Saskia Vogel (Translator)

‘Do you have to stare like that?’ I asked.

‘Think about the actors in porn. They’ve got no problem showing themselves off.’

‘Think about when I broke your nose,’ I replied.

Ellinor is thirty-six. She wears soft black sweatpants and a Michelin Man jacket. She fights. Smart and unsentimental, she tries her hand at online dating, only to be stranded by a snowstorm with a literary critic. Cut to Max Lamas, an author who dreams of a polyglot lover, a woman who will understand him—in every tongue. His search takes him to Italy, where he befriends a marchesa whose old Roman family is on the brink of ruin. At the heart of this literary intrigue is a handwritten manuscript that leaves no one unaffected.

The Polyglot Lovers is a fiercely witty and nuanced contribution to feminism in the #metoo era. Pleasure is an elusive thing, love even more so.

About The Author: Saskia Voge(translator)

Saskia Vogel is a writer and literary translator from Los Angeles. She has written on the themes of gender, power, and sexuality for publications such as Granta, The White Review, The Offing, and The Quietus. Her translations include work by leading Swedish female authors, such as Katrine Marçal, Karolina Ramqvist and the modernist eroticist Rut Hillarp. Previously, she worked in London as Granta magazine’s global publicist and in Los Angeles as an editor at the AVN Media Network. 

Read an Excerpt

When trying to find the one, I’d never thought the internet would be my thing. There was something commercial about it, not to mention I’d never written a personal ad, or any-thing  else  for  that  matter,  and  had  no  idea  how  to  sell myself in writing. My boyfriends had always been regular guys from my village. The first one, for instance, was called “Johnny” and there was nothing special about him at all, at least not on the surface, at least not until it became clear that he was in fact sick. We were in the same class at school and it started with him saying:

“Is there anything you’ve always dreamed a man would do for you?”

I guess he’d heard it in a movie and, in all seriousness, already actually thought he was a man. And I suppose he wasn’t  expecting  the  answer  I  gave  him,  but  something more like: “Yes, I’ve always wished for a man who could make me lose my mind in bed.” Or a concrete wish that would help him along. But I said:

“I’ve always wanted to be taught how to fight.” And when he didn’t look as surprised as I’d thought he would, I added: “Fight like a motherfucker.” Johnny nodded slowly, spat on the ground, and said: “If that’s what you want, doll.”

That very night he took me to what he called his fight club. It was a bunch of people who’d seen and been inspired by the movie, but unlike the people in the film, they actu-ally practiced various martial arts and met up three times a week to fight. Everyone went up against everyone else. You  had  to  go  into  a  basement  beneath  a  school.  It  had tiles  that  faded  from  brown  to  orange;  a  strange  matte tile  that  didn’t  behave  as  tile  usually  does,  but  seemed to absorb every sound. From there, you went deep inside a series of corridors. Everyone was dead silent, barefoot, and had bags full of gym clothes slung over their shoulders.  Only  the  fans  made  a  noise.  Then  you  entered  the room  and  there  they  were,  the  people  from  our  village who wanted to fight. A temporary captain was appointed, and  we  all  warmed  up  together.  Everyone  was  flexible, even the guys, and no one was ashamed of showing that they could do forward or side splits. People farted loudly, stretched out like that, but not laughing was an unwritten rule. Then we fought. I was the only beginner and had one thing going for me: I was scared to death. Being scared to death gives you an edge, Johnny said. Being really fucking afraid had some hidden benefits—the body was smarter than you thought, and when you let it run on autopilot, it  was  capable  of  almost  anything.  But  then  you  had  to take control. 

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Article originally Published in the October/November 2019 Issue “Read Global”

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