Adulterous, drug-addled, digitised … the many shades of romance are celebrated by author Emma Jane Unsworth
The first time I read Carol Ann Duffy’s collection Rapture, I finished it, took a breath, and read it again. I had rarely encountered anything so raw and it contains some of my favourite poetry. It tells the story of an affair – a modern one, for the digitised masses. “I tend to the mobile now like an injured bird / We text text text our significant words.” But something remains of old romance in here, too. These poems are defiantly and gleefully lyrical.
Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata is a nimble, satirical delight – skewering the idea of the tragic woman “on the shelf”. Translated from the Japanese by Ginny Tapley Takemori, it centres on Keiko, a woman who works in a convenience store and finds fulfilment there, much to the disquiet of the people around her who think her life cannot possibly be complete without traditional romance. Questions of what constitutes happiness don’t find easy answers in this novel – especially when love presents itself in man-form and Keiko reacts unexpectedly.