Love is a central theme of many books. Here we present some works of fiction and non-fiction with a particularly interesting, surprising or political perspective on love.
Interracial Relationships: Could this be love?
Could this be love? is a bilingual anthology with personal essays on interracial relationships edited by Stefanie Hirsbrunner. In different ways, each contribution shows that something as private as a romantic relationship, a friendship or a relationship between parents and their children is absolutely political – especially when it comes to people who position themselves differently in relation to race. The topics addressed include visa policies, the legacy of historical prohibitions on interracial relationships (e.g. during apartheid in South Africa or the Nazi era in Germany), tokenism and the fetishisation of Black bodies. The narrators make themselves vulnerable and thus all seem to be pursuing a desire for structural change.
Being tender with each other: Radical Tenderness – Why Love is Political
Şeyda Kurt relates that her starting point for writing Radikale Zärtlichkeit – Warum Liebe politisch ist (Radical Tenderness – Why Love is Political, not yet translated into English) was a discomfort with common images of love that are shaped by power relations, which empty the word of any real content. This critical view of love evoked in her a preference for the term tenderness: implying ways of behaving that couldn’t be further from any form of violence.
Perilous Passion: Dangerous Love
Set in Lagos, Nigeria, during the 1970s, Ben Okri‘s Dangerous Love follows the story of Omovo, a young man who finds himself trapped in a life that is anything but easy: his mother is dead and his brothers escaped a home controlled by a recently remarried, violent and disillusioned father. The only things that are keeping Omovo together are his two sources of love: the art of painting and Ifeyiwa, a beautiful woman who, despite reciprocating his feelings, is already married to a man she was forced to accept as her husband. Art and love are the two biggest forces in Omovo’s life, his sources of light.
Love for a city: In the end, it was all about love
Several stylistic and content-related choices make Musa Okwonga’s book In the end, it was all about love stand out of a crowd. When it comes to love, there is the to-and-fro, the loveless loving of the narrator’s chosen home city of Berlin. There is the loneliness of a bisexual man who worries he will never find someone to share his life with, and the growing hopelessness of too many failed attempts. But inspite of these constant doubts, there is an inviting sense of humour, and the feeling that good friends and a nice piece of cake might turn it all around.
Love and a full life: Their eyes were watching god
Their eyes were watching god is a classic. Zora Neale Hurston tells a story about the porch conversations amongst the townsfolk of Eatonville, the ‘muck’ of the Everglades, and the protean surroundings of southern Florida, which is in turn so generous in its fertility, and so dangerous in hurricane season. Racism and colourism, sexism, and the intersectionality of discriminations are central themes. But the entire plot sometimes appeared to be fuelled by the quest for heterosexual romance and Janie’s wish to live a full life.