A man imprisoned by taboo learns the price of love. A child visits the grave of a cousin she’s never met; another absorbs the fallout of her parents’ divorce. Friendships rupture beyond repair, and family members collide when it comes to caring for their ageing father.
These vivid stories of yearning, loneliness and resilience navigate the naivety of childhood, the complications of young adulthood and the politics of marriage.
Monica Macansantos is a powerful new voice bringing us the raw and darkly beautiful perspectives of characters lost both in and out of their homeland, the Philippines.
“At some point during the span of our lives, we wonder about the ways we’ve led it. The lost loves we pine for long after they have faded. Lonely nights spent far away from the people we hold dear. A job that etches away at the little sanity we can muster to move through the day. Responsibilities and obligations that haunt us. The imagined laughter of strangers who mock our lack of courage. This and so much more is the thread that binds Macansantos’s characters in Love and Other Rituals as they struggle to determine how best to lead their lives amidst burgeoning turmoil. In this collection of eight stories, there is dormant hope and irresolution to last a lifetime as Macansantos’s stories remove the veil of false contentment from the reader’s eyes. … Macansantos challenges us to lead lives worthy of the name, the better to stave off regret.” Dr Tinashe Jakwa,Meanjin
“I loved these beautiful stories by Monica Macansantos, who writes with such beauty and delicacy about desire, home, longing, duty, and hope — that is, what it means to be human. Every story is terrific, different, surprising. I can’t wait to see what she does next.” Elizabeth McCracken, The Souvenir Museum, Bowlaway, The Giant’s House, and Thunderstruck and Other Stories. Winner of the 2015 Story Prize
“It’s not their ‘exotic’ locations that make Monica Macansantos’s stories feel fresh and new, it’s the emotional territory she covers. A teacher’s compromised longing for the young married father who’s become his lover. Two expat Filipinas in Austin contemplating the varieties of loneliness available to them in America. The sudden vision of a teenage girl who has chosen a rough boy as her protector of the potential emptiness of her future. Described this way, these stories sound bleak. They’re not. They’re stories suffused with tenderness and a keen attention to the wild aberrations of the heart.” Anthony Giardina, Norumbega Park, White Guys, and Recent History
“Monica Macansantos draws you into the worlds of her characters and slowly reveals their secrets. I read with curiosity and quickness, intent upon discovery, but she isn’t going to give it all away and you wouldn’t want her to. Macansantos is a promising young writer who is wise beyond her years.” Mary Miller, Biloxi: A Novel, The Last Days of California: A Novel, Always Happy Hour: Stories’, and Big World
“Of the eight stories in the collection, ‘Love and Other Rituals’, ‘The Autumn Sun’, and ‘Leaving Auckland’ are among my personal highlights. The messy, lonely characters of these three stories lingered in my mind weeks after my first read and I couldn’t help wondering how the rest of their stories could go.” Frances Revita, ‘Fruit-flavoured shampoo: A review of Love and Other Rituals by Monica Macansantos’. The Pantograph Punch, Aotearoa New Zealand