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Lovers on All Saints' Day: Stories

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  473 ratings  ·  75 reviews
From the award-winning, bestselling author of The Sound of Things Falling, a brilliant collection of stories that showcases why he is one of the best writers—in any language—working today.
Lovers on All Saints' Day is an emotional book that haunts, moves, and seduces. Juan Gabriel Vásquez, the brilliant novelist, now brings his keen eye and rich prose to the themes of love
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published July 21st 2015 by Riverhead Books (first published April 1st 2001)
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May 12, 2015 rated it liked it
These stories are not new; they were first published in Spanish over 14 years ago. Their themes, however, are ageless: mostly flawed men at their middle point of life who, for have reached crisis points in their relationships and indeed, in their very souls.

Set primarily in France and Belgium, some are more compelling than others. In the eponymous story (slightly retitled: The All Saints’ Day Lovers), the timing itself is fortuitous; a night when the curtain that separated this world from the ot
Xian Xian
Jul 01, 2018 rated it liked it
A Brief Plot Discussion
Lovers on All Saints' Day is a short story collection centering on the theme of romance, but these stories take place during a time when the estranged couples try to regather the remnants of a relationship that once was fulfilling and genuine. "Hiding Places" is about  a journalist who witnesses the dysfunctional relationships of some peers of his after a child is murdered. "The Lodger" is about a divorced man who goes hunting with an ex and her family members, just so a f
Professor Weasel
Apr 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Beautiful, brutal endings. Sometimes I found the beginnings a bit slow and confusing, but the middles + endings always gripped me hard. Lots of hunting trips, depressed lovers, failed love, rural scenes in Belgium. Vásquez writes in the introduction that he was inspired by Tobias Wolff, that “a book of stories should be like a novel in which the characters don’t know each other,” which perhaps explains many of the eerie repetitions. Overall I don't know how many of these individuals stories will ...more
Jeff Scott
We are introduced to the characters of Juan Gabriel Vasquez's book of short stories in the afterglow of events. The sun has set prior to the start of the tale. The monsters and ghouls have come the night before and we only see what remains. Couples have already decided to split, it's just a question of when to leave.  Others experience the loss of a loved one and must still find the strength to remain upright. Everyone is searching for a new way forward, but none will find it.

The titular story c
Bob H
Apr 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
A well-crafted series of short stories, set in present-day Belgium, usually in the Ardennes region or nearby. The stories are unrelated; each tends to have a few characters dealing with problems in relationships and their pasts. The author introduces the characters effectively, with very brief brush strokes and evocations of mood, and the mood and emotions grow subtly. The tone is somber. The English translation is appropriate and clear, with no false notes or distractions. Highly recommend, esp ...more
Apr 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: those who appreciate the subtle miseries of relationships
Short stories about lovers, usually unhappy ones. Adultery, longing and discontent abound.

Though these are new stories (not yet published in the US), they have an old feeling to them. A voice from the past, a feel of women in fashionable head scarves and men hunting in tweed. Cigar smoke and such.

One story in particular, is about a woman in love with (and betrayed by) a house. You heard me. A house. That one will stick with me long after the rest of the dissatisfied lovers have blended together
Alan Gerstle
May 21, 2015 rated it liked it
The publisher's press release calls this short story collection "hypnotic." I suppose if falling asleep can be a result of a hypnotically induced suggestion, I'd provide it with the same fulsome adjective. Subtle fictions with tense, anomic undercurrents of tone that complement the activities of the characters that inhabit them can be rewarding, but by adding "turgid" to the mix, the result in an experience like selecting items from the bins of a Whole Foods Salad Bar a half-hour before closing, ...more
Chris Roberts
Jul 23, 2015 rated it did not like it
Falling in, out, about, for love is tedious, time consuming

an awfully counter-fulfilling emotional pursuit-and-or-investment

and much of this transpires, conspires to drive the characters

and an extraordinary effort is required to turn the page

it is the same that came before and before and before

Dear God, what a head exploding bore what has become of

the masculine, writing of adventures set in the see through outdoors

the pages turning themselves and ardor is a mountain climbed

and so do not r
Aug 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
“...only the hay bales wrapped in white plastic broke through the darkness, big and round like balloons of light” (39-40).
“In the irises of her eyes, I saw the brief reflection of the illuminated window” (42).
“The night smelled of dry grass despite the imminence of winter, which kills fragrance” (95).
“...a thick glass, striped from use…” (101).
“Selma would fall in love with his rough fingers, his concealing palms, his wrists so thin that the glass face of watches slipped around to the underside
Aug 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
this is a set of short stories previously published in Spanish but recently translated into English and the location is mainly Belgium and france. the common theme is relationships either sorrow ,revenge, breakups, tainted love but enjoy the prose used and made me think but it isn't the lovey style romance book though ...more
Jun 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
*ARC for indie bookstore*
Lover's on all Saint's Day follows various protagonists in Europe through a series of depressing short stories. Depressing in a good way, think Carveresque.
Rambling Reader
Aug 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
didn't finish the stories. not feeling it. ...more
Kevin Clouther
May 11, 2015 added it
Shelves: own
Review forthcoming in BOOKLIST
Damien Travel
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Are « local » writers better placed to describe their country, their region or their city? A good question which Juan Gabriel Vásquez gave me the opportunity to investigate further. Born in Bogota, he spent one year in Belgium at the age of 26 in 1999, and published a collection of short stories entitled « The All Saints’ Day Lovers » (Los Amantes de Todos los Santos) ». The majority of the stories takes place in the Belgian Ardennes. It is a region which I happen to know relatively well and I w ...more
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
I always have a hard time with short stories, because I want to know more and I'm always left asking, what is the point, why this story? I didn't even read through all the stories in this book. I didn't care for the writing style (unsure if that's Vasquez' fault or the translator's), very long, meandering sentences. I also assumed it would be sort of magical realism based on the back of the book's reviews. So, I was caught off-guard when most of the stories are about Belgium, France and hunting. ...more
Rick Homuth
Aug 30, 2017 rated it liked it
I really oughta start researching books more thoroughly before I start reading them. Apparently I picked one of (or the only, I have no idea) Gabriel Vasquez's books that focuses entirely on Europe instead of South America, like I'd hoped. But it was good either way, if not a little boring at times with its fixation on relationships between beleaguered women and the careless men who take them for granted (also "the hunt"-- for boars, not romantic partners). And because JGV is a Colombian expatri ...more
Kellie Wilson
May 30, 2017 rated it liked it
This book is a collection of stories about people falling in and out of love. The prose is rich. My favorite story is called "The Return" because it was about an odd woman in love with her estate.
The most memorable story is the last entitled "Life on Grimsey Island" because it features a character wrecked by her daughter's involvement in a cult. The same week that I read this story, I heard an interview with Jim Jone's latest biographer, discussed scripture in Sunday school with striking cult u
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Return was such a sad story....erasing and changing a place to take away someone's good memories of home as revenge. Wow.

A lot of the stories about the sadness with love.

The last story, Life on Grimsey Island, was the best and worst! Sad and poignant, and the worst for the characters, but such a good story!
Katie Anne
Oct 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you're a fan of complicated characters and short stories, this book is for you. These aren't feel good stories, but more like short meditations on relationships and how we often fall short. Still, the prose is beautiful and realistic. These feel like the kind of pieces you savor, a glass of whiskey to warm you on a fall day. ...more
Jul 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
This collection of short stories is very interesting because it tracks the author's progress as a writer. While interesting and thought-provoking, the first few stories are difficult to follow. It is obvious he finds his voice about midway through and the final story is heart wrenching and haunting. Wonderful! I can't wait to read his critically acclaimed book, The Sound of Things Falling. ...more
El Hugh
Somehow the idea of Vásquez, whose other books are so explicitly 'about' Colombia, writing a collection of short stories mainly set in rural Belgium struck me as faintly ridiculous. But that probably says as much about how we often pigeonhole writers from Latin America and indeed, Colombia. The book itself is good but falls into the damning with faint praise category of admired but not loved. ...more
Kristina Holišová
I haven't finished this book and actually do not plan to ever finish it. For me this falls into the category "Unreadable" and Vasquez shares this club with Orhan Pamuk and a Thomas Hardy's novel Tess from D'Uberville... ...more
Luc Paredis
Pleasant reading, poor stories.
Bill Berger
Mar 18, 2019 rated it liked it
I seldom read short stories but as a fan of Vasquez, I read the book.
Stories had a vague theme running throughout but found them ponderous.
His novels are better
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was ok
Infidelity, dismal relationships, and weird IKEA references abound in these stories.
Shawn  Aebi
Dec 17, 2019 rated it liked it
An earlier collection with stories about gentile class in outskirts of Belgium. Mostly of breakups and breakdowns in relationships, some tragically.
Barbara Fox King
Apr 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautiful book. Put this on your TBR!
Mar 23, 2017 rated it it was ok
This collection of short, and I mean short, stories was disappointing. The only connection between them seemed to be geography and unhappy people with relationship problems. Don't recommend. ...more
Roger Brunyate
May 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: stories
Isolated in the Ardennes

I have known Vásquez up to now only from his large-scale political novels, set in his native Colombia: The Informers, The Secret History of Costaguana, and The Sound of Things Falling. So it was a surprise to see this much earlier book from 2001 come out, excellently translated by his usual collaborator Anne McLean, and find that it is a collection of seven substantial stories, all set in Europe, and completely free of political content. Specifically, the setting of most
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Estudió Derecho en su ciudad natal, en la Universidad del Rosario, y después de graduarse, partió a Francia, donde se instaló en París (1996-99). Allí, en La Sorbona se doctoró en Literatura Latinoamericana. Luego se mudó a un pequeño pueblo de la región de Ardenas, en Bélgica. Después de un año de vivir allí, Vásquez se instaló en Barcelona. Actualmente vive cerca a su ciudad natal en Colombia.


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