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Kitchen Curse

Written by Lara Norgaard, originally published in Mekong Review

Jan 01, 2020

"My Lipstick Is Red, Darling”, from Eka Kurniawan’s new collection of short stories, Kitchen Curse, begins with a woman’s arrest at a brothel. She tells the police she is merely a housewife, not a prostitute, but her husband asks for a divorce when she finally gets home. The pages that follow delve into the husband’s perspective on how the couple met and fell in love — it turns out the woman had in fact been a prostitute in the past — and then switch to the wife’s view of the same events. On the one hand, Kurniawan is telling the story of a husband who becomes increasingly unfaithful, convinced his wife must be cheating because she continues to wear bright-red lipstick. On the other, he is narrating the experience of a woman who puts on make-up each day in order to win back the love of her wayward spouse, until she finally returns to the brothel, trying to catch her husband in the act.

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