Don’t want to walk into the sunset this Valentine’s Day? Here are four contemporary classics that tell stories of passionate-but-dysfunctional protagonists and unhappily-ever-afters.

Gone Girl (2012), by Gillian Flynn

This American thriller—which remained No.1 on The New York Times hardcover fiction best-seller list for eight weeks in 2012—tells the tale of the violent and vengeful Amy Dunne, who disappears on the day of her fifth wedding anniversary. Meanwhile, Gone Girl’s opening question—“What have we done to us?"—haunts her husband Nick, and the novel’s quintessential 21st century malicious and mercurial marriage.

This is How You Lose Her (2012), by Junot Díaz

Yunior—Díaz’s Latino love rat, and recurring protagonist—returns in this collection consisting of nine interlinked stories of illicit love and infidelity intertwined with the immigrant experience. In this, a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction that year, the reader is confronted with repetitive relationships bursting with betrayal, as the collection comes to a close in “The Cheater’s Guide To Love".

The Vegetarian (2015), by Han Kang

After a nightmare about human cruelty, Yeong-hye decides never to eat meat again—a decision that sours her relationship with her husband and unravels into an unhealthy sexual experience with her brother-in-law. Kang’s disturbingly delicious three-part novella—translated into English by Deborah Smith, and recipient of the 2016 Man Booker International Prize—is the kind of Korean fiction you devour in a day.

The cover of Fates and Furies.
The cover of Fates and Furies.

Fates and Furies (2015), by Lauren Groff

Nominated for a National Book Award—and on former US president Barack Obama’s list of favourites—it’s the story of Lancelot “Lotto" Satterwhite and Mathilde Yoder’s solid marriage, which has stood the test of two decades. But Groff’s plot, which swivels on a shift in perspectives—his and hers—soon digs out and discloses the dishonesties and secrets that make up the skeleton of this seemingly rare relationship.

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